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Work of the National Defence Committee

The National Defence Committee is a standing committee of the Riigikogu that works with draft legislation dealing with national security and defence, exercises control over the activities of the executive power within its field of expertise, and participates in shaping the security and defence policy of the country.

Work with draft legislation

As the relevant sectoral committee, the Committee plays a major role in shaping the foundations of Estonia’s security policy. It functioned as the lead committee for example in the proceedings on the National Defence Bill, the Peacetime National Defence Bill, the War-Time National Defence Bill, the Military Service Bill, the Estonian Defence League Bill, the Cybersecurity Bill and the Strategic Goods Bill. The Committee also prepares resolutions of the Riigikogu on the deployment of Defence Forces in international operations, incl. NATO Response Forces.

It is important to achieve political consensus in national defence issues, which is why it has become an established practice for the Committee to pass its decisions by consensus.

Other functions

The Committee provides its opinion on EU draft legislation and regularly meets with the Minister of Defence, officials of the Ministry of Defence and representatives of the Defence Forces in order to stay up-to-date with topical national defence issues. The Committee also meets with the Commander of the Defence Forces on a regular basis to receive an exhaustive overview of the developments in national defence and military operations areas. The Committee has a decisive role in the appointment to office of the Commander of the Defence Forces. The National Defence Committee also participates in the process of adoption of the National Defence Development Plan. Before submitting a draft of the National Defence Development Plan or amendments thereto to the Government of the Republic for approval, the Prime Minister hears the position of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu. The Government of the Republic appoints the Commander of the Defence Forces to office on the proposal of the Minister of Defence, taking into account the position of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu.

Every year, the parliament determines by a Resolution the quota of active members of the Defence Forces who can participate in an international military operation led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union, or the United Nations, upon the first contribution thereto. On the basis of the above Resolution of the parliament, the government orders the Defence Forces to begin or to end participation at international military operations, taking into account the opinion of the National Defence Committee of the parliament.

Section 31 of the Defence Forces Organisation Act provides that if the Police and Border Guard Board is unable to counteract an immediate danger to the health or life of a person in the Estonian marine area or a small island, or is unable to do this in time, and if this does not hinder the performance of the tasks of the Defence Forces to a significant degree, the Defence Forces may apply special state supervision measures by a decision of the Police and Border Guard Board and on the basis of urgent competence. The Ministry of the Interior submits a relevant written report to the National Defence Committee every two years. Under section 42 of the Estonian Defence Forces Organisation Act, the National Defence Committee along with the Security Authorities Surveillance Select Committee of the Riigikogu exercises supervision over the preparation and organisation of armed resistance.

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Last updated: 17.01.2023

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