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The draft Resolution on the approval of the long-term national development strategy “Estonia 2035” passed the first reading in the Riigikogu today. The strategy sets the strategic objectives for the Estonian country and people and determines the changes needed to achieve them.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, who presented the draft Resolution, said that the long-term national development strategy “Estonia 2035” was the first of its kind that created a comprehensive view across sectors to direct the long-term development of the country through strategic planning and financial management processes, while taking into account the possibilities of public finance. Prime Minister noted that the drafting of the strategy had been based on the global trend forecasts and an analysis of the future situation in Estonia.

“The national long-term strategy will have to solve the objective problems that the country is facing and to take life forward. It must encompass the values and goals uniting society; at the same time it must give all of us the freedom to choose the path to reach these goals,” Prime Minister said. “The long-term national plan must above all be human-centred – it must be mindful of all Estonian people alike.”

Ratas highlighted the five strategic objectives that were at the centre of the strategy that formulated Estonia as it was projected to be in 2035. “In order to reach these objectives and to meet the development needs, changes will be necessary in nearly all spheres of life in the coming years,” he said.

The first objective, Ratas pointed out, was that smart, active and health-minded people live in Estonia. “In order that Estonian people remained curious, creative and entrepreneurial throughout their whole lifespan, that they would be willing to study and be ready for changes in the nature of work, we will begin to move towards flexibility and building on the needs of the student in education,” he said. When speaking of healthcare, Prime Minister said that the country had to make efforts towards the health of its people but it could not do so alone because having only money was not enough. “We must all take care of our physical and mental health as well as that of others. We need to reduce risk behaviour and make health-conscious decisions,” Ratas noted.

At the same time, Prime Minister said, the strategy set an important objective that the Estonian society should be caring, cooperative and open. “All people in Estonia must have an opportunity for self-realisation and for participating in the life of society. Every member of society must feel supported and valued by other people as well as by their country. It is also important that all permanent residents of Estonia and Estonians living abroad feel solidarity with Estonia. This is what unites us as a society, a people and a country,” Ratas said.

In Ratas’ words, the objectives to be achieved by 2035 also set out that the Estonian economy should be strong, innovative and responsible, and Estonia should have a secure and high-quality living environment that takes everyone’s needs into account. “We must follow the principles of high-quality space creation when shaping our living environment. This means that artistic, technological and economic solutions and the natural environment should form a balanced whole,” Prime Minister noted.

Finally, Ratas said that Estonia aimed to be an innovative, reliable and human-centred country. “All public services must be available, accessible and of high quality in both the physical and digital space to people. Regardless of their place of residence, age, special needs or other characteristics,” he said. Ratas said that the adoption of innovative solutions and giving preference to modern technologies was indeed what had brought success to Estonia and helped us be big in the world. In his words, in the future, too, the focus would be on Estonia’s strengths, relying on its achievements in the digital, cultural, sports and other fields.

Prime Minister noted that “Estonia 2035” was a strategy that supported the cooperation of the Riigikogu and the Government – the Riigikogu was to approve the general part of the strategy, while the Government of the Republic was to approve the implementation action plan that was going to be reviewed every year. In his words, in the future, every minister was going to give an overview of the progress and shortcomings in their fields to the Riigikogu at least once a year.

According to the explanatory memorandum to the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Approval the National Long-term Development Strategy ‘Estonia 2035’” (262 OE), submitted by the Government, the “Estonia 2035” consists of a draft general part of the strategy, the Government’s action programme, and indicators. The Riigikogu will adopt the general part of the strategy, and the Government will adopt the Government’s action programme and the “Estonia 2035” indicators after the Resolution of the Riigikogu will have entered into force.

The strategy “Estonia 2035” will be implemented in particular through sectoral development plans and programmes. Local authorities as well as public, voluntary and private sector organisations will also be able to use it as a foundation for strategic planning.

During the debate, Kaja Kallas (Reform Party), Kersti Sarapuu (Centre Party), Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party), Heiki Hepner (Isamaa) and Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor on behalf of their factions.

The Riigikogu passed seven Acts

Under the Act on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Other Acts (merger of the Civil Aviation Administration, the Road Administration and the Maritime Administration) (236 SE), initiated by the Government, the civil aviation, road and maritime administrations will be merged. The name of the new merged agency is the Transport Administration. The merger of the administrations proceeds from a general principle of the state reform to reduce the number and duplication of administrative agencies and to improve the quality and availability of public services.

The new administration will establish a centre of excellence covering different types of transport that will have the capability to plan smart mobility solutions and to implement projects covering different types of transport. With the merger, the position of the deputy secretary general for maritime affairs will also be established in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

Kalvi Kõva (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.

56 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act, six voted against, and there were two abstentions.

The Act on Amendments to § 28 the Citizenship Act (217 SE), initiated by the Government, amends the Act by including commission of serious criminal offences against the state as a new ground for deprivation of citizenship. Section 28 of the Act is amended by adding a new subsection under which the Government may deprive a person of Estonian citizenship if a judgment of conviction in treason, intelligence activities or terrorist offence has entered into force with regard to him or her.

80 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Tourism Act and the Consumer Protection Act (234 SE), initiated by the Government, updates the requirements for the provision of the accommodation service. The requirements that are not directly necessary or in which self-regulation works well, like in the case of quality requirements, are reduced. The definition of the accommodation service and the description of the types of accommodation establishments are renewed. As a result of the amendments, the rules for the provision of the accommodation service will become more flexible, and the number of claims and the costs to meet the requirements will decrease.

The offering of temporary sleeping accommodation by an undertaking is deemed to be accommodation service. Accommodation service is a tourist service which is not for residential purposes but which is intended for temporary accommodation of visitors for holiday or business or other purposes and which is offered for example by day, week or month. The introduction of the short-term (temporary) service will help differentiate the accommodation service more clearly from residential lease contracts. In the case of accommodation for a period longer than three months, the special rules for residential lease contracts already set out in the Law of Obligations Act apply.

Another major amendment is that the issues relating to the categories of accommodation establishments will remain for the sector to be arranged. In the future, in order to assign categories (stars of hotels) to accommodation establishments, it will not be necessary to apply for the approval of the minister, and the accommodation sector will be able to continue quality development without state restrictions.

New digital solutions and the changed expectations of clients are phasing out the need for separate reception rooms (“table service”) and several other services, and therefore other requirements of the Regulation of the Minister are reduced as well. No special rules are established for the sharing economy, but the principle is that requirements apply uniformly to all undertakings.

The establishments providing accommodation will also be able to register their guests electronically and the obligation to preserve visitor’s cards in paper format is abolished.

81 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.

Under the Act on Amendments to the Organic Farming Act and the Plant Propagation and Plant Variety Rights Act (260 SE), initiated by the Government, in the future, the holdings of the persons who sell unpacked organic products to the final consumer in small quantities, for example small organic shops, will no longer need to have the recognition currently required of them. In the future, it will be sufficient if they inform the Agricultural and Food Board, which will be established on the basis of the Agricultural Board and the Veterinary and Food Board, of their activities.

The exemption will be granted to operators that sell unpacked organic products to the final consumer, provided that they do not produce, prepare, store other than in connection with the point of sale, or import such products from a third country, or subcontract such activities to another operator. The sale of unpacked organic products must not exceed 5 000 kg per year; such sales must not represent an annual turnover in relation to unpacked organic products exceeding EUR 20 000; or the potential certification cost of the operator exceeds 2 % of the total turnover on unpacked organic products sold by that operator. In order to prevent fraudulent use of the indications referring to organic farming, the bases for the repeal of decisions on recognition are changed and the fine for selling non-organic products as organic products is increased.

The Act is brought into conformity with the European Union organic farming Regulation to be applied from 1 January 2022 which aims to eliminate the obstacles to the development of organic farming in the EU, to ensure fair competition to farmers and operators, to increase consumers’ trust in organic products and to bring legislation into conformity with the Lisbon Treaty. The result should be simpler provisions, more effective procedures and products that are reliable for the consumer.

81 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.

The purpose of the Act on Amendments to the Feed Act (225 SE), initiated by the Government, is to bring the Feed Act into conformity with the European Union Regulation establishing a list of intended uses of feed intended for particular nutritional purposes and the modes of use necessary to achieve them applicable as of 25 December. The amendments are of a technical nature – references to the directly applicable Regulation are included. Nor do they involve any new obligations for feed business operators or supervisory officials.

82 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the State Budget for 2020 Act (252 SE), initiated by the Government.

According to § 43 of the State Budget Act, in order to amend the state budget without amending the total amount of funds, the Government of the Republic may initiate a draft State Budget Amendment Act not later than two months before the end of the budgetary year. Considering that the State Budget for 2020 Act was prepared in the autumn of the preceding year and some of the funding needs have changed, it is expedient to amend the state budget to achieve more effectively the aims set by state agencies.

During the debate, Andres Sutt (Reform Party) took the floor.

53 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act, ten voted against, and there were two abstentions.

The Act on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) concerning the Granting of the Status of Associate Member in the Pre-Stage to Membership of CERN (230 SE), initiated by the Government.

With the ratification of the agreement, Estonia becomes an associate member of CERN. The Agreement concerning the granting of the status of associate member in the pre-stage to membership of CERN needed to be ratified in the Riigikogu, because, with the agreement, Estonia joins an international organisation and it regulates tax issues, granting a tax exemption on the property and income of CERN.

The accession will allow knowledge transfer for Estonian firms, in particular in high technology, but it will also open wider opportunities to participate in CERN procurements. After 2–5 years of associate membership, Estonia will become a full member of CERN and will conclude a new agreement that will replace this agreement. The associate member status before becoming a full member is mandatory for new member states. When Estonia becomes a full member, additional opportunities will open to it, as the maximum limit for the amount that can be recovered from CERN will be eliminated. In the associate member period, an amount recovered must not exceed the contribution of the state, and the state is not entitled to vote in the Council.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and Director-General of CERN Fabiola Gianotti signed the agreement via a video bridge in Tallinn and Geneva on 19 June 2020.

CERN was established on 29 September 1954 when the Convention for the Establishment of a European Organization for Nuclear Research entered into force. The Organization provides for collaboration among European States in nuclear research of a pure scientific and fundamental character, and in research essentially related thereto.

73 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.

The Riigikogu passed a Resolution

The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Approval of the Consolidated Report of 2019 of the State” (247 OE), submitted by the Government.

The consolidated report of 2019 the state consists of the management report, the financial statement, and information concerning local governments and public sector and government sector.

According to the report, the revenues of the state in 2019 were 10.86 billion euro. The expenditure and investments of the state totalled 10.99 billion euro – the expenditure 10.63 billion and investments 357.9 million euro. In 2019, the expenditure and investments exceeded the revenue by 130.3 million euro.

According to the data of the consolidated annual accounts of the state, the financial volume of the state assets totalled 16.3 billion euro as at 31 December 2019 and the majority of the assets consisted of fixed assets (forest, roads, buildings, machinery). Compared to the previous period, the financial volume of the assets has increased by 250.2 million euro.

As of 31 December 2019, the state has liabilities totalling 9.6 billion euro and they have increased by 802.1 million compared to the previous period. The larger share of the liabilities consists of long-term liabilities in an amount of 5.9 billion euro. The loan liabilities of the state amount to 3.4 billion euro and they have increased by 274.8 million compared to the earlier period. The state pension liabilities amount to around 2.8 billion euro.

During the debate, Aivar Sõerd (Reform Party) took the floor.

52 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Resolution and there was one abstention.

Four Bills passed the first reading

The Bill on Amendments to the State Budget Act (increasing the transparency of the state budget) (251 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction, aims to ensure better transparency and understandability of the state budget and to improve the reporting on the implementation of the budget. This would enhance the role of the Riigikogu in the legislative proceedings on and the implementation of the state budget, and would ensure a timely response to possible deviations from an approved state budget.

During the debate, Aivar Sõerd (Reform Party) took the floor.

The Bill on Amendments to the Funded Pensions Act and Amendments to Other Associated Act (287 SE), initiated by the Finance Committee, is related to the reform of the second pillar pension scheme. The Bill will make the necessary improvements particularly to the regulation concerning the pension investment account and will correct reference errors and inaccuracies. The Bill is essentially of a technical nature. The Bill will make no amendments concerning the dates relating to the implementation of the reform of the second pension pillar or any other fundamental changes.

In relation to the investment account, specifications will be made in the movement of the money and data relating to the account. For example, the procedure for the entry into a pension contract will be specified, where it will be recommended to use the money on the pension investment account to pay insurance premiums. The Bill will also specify the procedure for making the lump-sum payment made to the pensioners in the second pension pillar scheme and the partial lump-sum payment due to be added on 1 January 2022 under the reform Act where the payment will also include the money on the pension investment account.

The Bill will also make some simplifications to the processes of the payment of money from the second pension pillar. If a person retires from the second pension pillar scheme and uses all his or her money contributed to the pillar to do so, under the Bill, the registrar of the pension register will be allowed to simply pay the person the money accrued on the person’s pension account later or to transfer such money to his or her pension agreement, depending on which payment option he or she has used.

The Investment Funds Act prohibits charging a fee for the redemption of the units of a pension fund from unit-holders who have attained the old-age pension age or who are going to attain such age in no more than five years. The Bill will extend the prohibition to unit-holders who are assessed as having no ability to work and who are already equal to pensioners in the second pillar pension scheme anyway under the reform of the second pillar pension scheme. In the Guarantee Fund Act, the regulation of the compensation for any loss caused to unit-holders of the second pension pillar will be amended by including references to the pension investment account to which the amount of compensation should be transferred once the person no longer makes contributions to the pension fund but uses a pension investment account instead.

The Bill on the Accession to the Metre Convention (278 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for accession to the Metre Convention with the aim of becoming a full member of the units of the organisation and gaining access to a number of services, for example, calibration of national standards.

The explanatory memorandum notes that, when Estonia accedes to the Metre Convention, significantly broader opportunities and rights will open up compared to the current associate membership. As a contracting state, in addition to participation, Estonia will also be able to vote at the meetings of the General Conference and to nominate candidates for seats on the Committee, that is, it will be possible for Estonia to influence the development of metrology at the most general international level. Participation in the work of the Committee gives the contracting state an opportunity to direct the focus of the development of metrology and the character of research and development projects. Through participation, Estonia will be able to promote the digitisation of metrology and to influence other countries to adopt the e-governance solutions created and functional in Estonia in the field of metrology. When Estonia accedes to the Metre Convention, it will obtain access to the free services of the Bureau, that is, the contributions of the contracting state ensure free access to the comparison measurements of national standards and the calibration services.

The Metre Convention covers the issues of metrology, or the science of measurement, on a global scale. The main task is to develop and create increasingly accurate and wider-ranging measurement standards covering different areas of measurement and to increase the equality of the standards of different countries.

The Bill on Amendments to the Maritime Safety Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (284 SE), initiated by the Government, will bring the Act into conformity with the requirements of European Union legislation and international conventions and will reduce the administrative burden for companies and persons.

The Bill will ensure the conformity of the Maritime Safety Act and the Acts relating to it to the European Union and international maritime law. The coherence, understandability and legal clarity of Acts will also be ensured. The main impacts arising from the amendments will concern the relevant state authorities.

Amendments with a significant impact provide that, in several areas of activity, the requirement of an activity licence will be abandoned or replaced by an obligation to submit a notice of economic activities. As a result of an analysis carried out by the Maritime Administration it has become clear that it is not essential to have several activity licences and that more often than not the current process of obtaining an activity licence is too bureaucratic for applicants.

When the amendments enter into force, operators will be issued certificates proving the existence of security or insurance meeting the requirements of the Nairobi Convention, and can be granted an exemption from the requirement to manage ballast water and sediments under the Ballast Water Convention.

A Bill was rejected at the first reading

The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act (250 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction and Member of the Riigikogu Raimond Kaljulaid, was to extend the range of persons receiving unemployment insurance benefit to include employees and officials who terminate their contract of employment or service relationship on their own initiative or by agreement of the parties and to increase the unemployment insurance benefit. The Bill was intended to improve the economic subsistence of the unemployed for the time when they are looking for a job, enabling them to attend trainings so they can find a job that matches their skills and expectations.

Lauri Läänemets (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.

The Social Affairs Committee as the lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 65 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and nine voted against. Thus, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceedings.

The new Minister of Public Administration Anneli Ott took her oath of office before the Riigikogu.

The sitting ended at 8.27 p.m.

Photos of the sitting

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

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