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The Bill that provides for changing the spheres of responsibility of four ministries and renames the Ministry of Agriculture as the Ministry of Rural Affairs passed the first reading in the Riigikogu.

The aim of the Bill on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (36 SE), initiated by the Government, is to reorganise the spheres of responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Interior, in order to ensure more integrated management of sectors and clearer division of responsibility, and to help reduce duplication and to promote closer cooperation between governmental authorities.

According to the Bill, the Ministry of Agriculture is renamed the Ministry of Rural Affairs, and the organisation of competition supervision will be transferred from the area of government of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to the area of government of the Ministry of Justice.

The amendment also provides that the tasks relating to local government development, regional administration and the planning and coordination of regional development, and national organisation of spatial planning activities, that currently are in the area of government of the Ministry of the Interior, will be transferred to the area of government of the Ministry of Finance to the sphere of responsibility of the Minister of Public Administration with a view to supporting the preparation and implementation of the administrative reform.

The deadline for motions to amend the Bill is 5 June.

The Riigikogu approved the membership of international delegations:

According to the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Estonian Delegation to the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Lithuania” (26 OE), initiated by the Foreign Affairs Committee, Helir-Valdor Seeder was appointed the head of the delegation, Aadu Must was appointed the deputy head of the delegation, and Krista AruMonika Haukanõmm, Olga Ivanova, Viktoria Ladõnskaja, Toomas Kivimägi, Aivar Kokk, Mihhail Korb, Valeri Korb, Heljo Pikhof and Rainer Vakra were appointed members.

The Baltic Assembly (BA) was established as a consulting and coordinating institution for discussing issues and projects of common interest. The BA opinions are presented to the parliaments and the governments of the Baltic states, as well as to international and regional organisations in the form of communications, proposals and recommendations. The working bodies of the BA are the session, presidium, committees and secretariat. The BA has formed five committees: the Economics, Energy and Innovation Committee; the Education, Science and Culture Committee; the Natural Resources and Environment Committee; the Legal Affairs and Security Committee; and the Welfare Committee.

77 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution, there were no abstentions and nobody was against.

According to the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Estonian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe” (27 OE), initiated by the Foreign Affairs Committee, Hannes Hanso was appointed the head of the delegation, and Eerik-Niiles Kross and Mailis Reps were appointed members. Raivo AegMart Helme and Andres Herkel are substitute members.

Plenary session of the PACE meets four times a year – in January, April, June and September. The most important documents are legally binding agreements and conventions, and recommendations to the governments of member countries in basic issues of society. The Foreign Affairs Committee was appointed as the lead committee.

75 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution, there was one abstention and nobody was against.

According to the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Estonian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe” (28 OE), initiated by the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mart Nutt was appointed the head of the delegation, and Külliki Kübarsepp and Mati Raidma were appointed members. Uno Kaskpeit, Jaanus Marrandi and Toomas Vitsut are substitute members.

The main aim of the activities of the OSCE PA is to involve Member States more in the resolution of European political and security issues, in order to enhance civilian control over military issues and to increase the responsibility and influence of members of parliament. The Assembly passes resolutions. Representing the collective voice of OSCE parliamentarians, these resolutions and recommendations are meant to ensure that all participating states live up to their OSCE commitments. The Assembly also engages in parliamentary diplomacy, and has an extensive election observation program. An important part in the work of the OSCE is the sending of delegations of observers to elections in member states, in order to observe the compliance of elections with law and democratic traditions. Detailed reports are prepared on observation results. The Foreign Affairs Committee was appointed as the lead committee.

80 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution, there were no abstentions and nobody was against.

According to the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Estonian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization” (29 OE), initiated by the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ants Laaneots was appointed the head of the delegation, and Marko Mihkelson and Kadri Simson were appointed members. Marianne Mikko is a substitute member.

The aims of the Estonian delegation to the NATO PA are to protect the foreign policy interests of Estonia, to actively participate in the events of the Assembly and the work of committees, and to ensure protection of Estonia’s security policy positions and performance of Estonia’s duties in the NATO.

78 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution, there were no abstentions and nobody was against.

According to the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of the Estonian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean” (30 OE), initiated by the Foreign Affairs Committee, Imre Sooäär was appointed the head of the delegation, and Henn Põlluaas was appointed member.

The main purpose of the activities of the Parliamentary Assembly – Union for Mediterranean is to support the partnership launched in Barcelona in 1995 which covers political, economic and cultural cooperation between the European Union and the Mediterranean countries. The PA-UfM helps increase the visibility and transparency of the process, and bring the partnership between the European Union and the Mediterranean countries closer to the interests and expectations of the public. The Assembly supplements the activities of the other institutions of the Barcelona Process. As predominant topics, the PA-Ufm has primarily been concerned with looking for a solution to the Middle East problem and with the potential role of the Assembly in this process. Human rights dialogue and promotion of democracy in the southern Mediterranean countries, and intercultural dialogue and migration policy also continue to be on the agenda.

80 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution, there were no abstentions and nobody was against.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Adult Education Act (12 SE), initiated by the Cultural Affairs Committee, which repeals the current Adult Education Act as of 1 July 2015 because the new Adult Education Act will enter into force as of that date.

83 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act, there were no abstentions and nobody was against.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to § 48 of the Income Tax Act (2 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction. The Bill provides for exemption from the fringe benefit tax the expenses incurred by an employer upon covering the expenses of engaging in sports by an employee or public servant in the amount of up to 500 euro per calendar year.

Andres Ammas and Eiki Nestor took the floor during the debate.

The deadline for motions to amend the Bill is 16 June.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of the Bill on the Accession to the Convention for the Establishment of a European Space Agency and the Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the European Space Agency concerning the Accession of Estonia to the Convention for the Establishment of a European Space Agency (39 SE), initiated by the Government. According to the Bill, the Republic of Estonia will accede to the Convention for the Establishment of a European Space Agency (ESA).

Membership in the ESA benefits businesses and research and development institutions alike, through directed procurements of the ESA as well as by winning public calls for tenders by the ESA. In addition to the direct benefits, participation in the activities of the ESA improves the visibility of businesses at the international level, and allows businesses to move upwards in the value chain, integrate into important supply chains, and introduce space applications into terrestrial economy.

Accession to the ESA will mean an obligation for Estonia to contribute to its budget but it will also bring about the possibility for Estonian enterprises to participate in ESA procurements. A single special payment of EUR 600,000 will have to be made, to which an annual contribution of EUR 870,000 will be added. The Agency will use EUR 500,000 of this during the transition period (2016–2022) for directed procurements from Estonian businesses and research and development institutions. EUR 260,000 will go towards the overall expenses of the ESA and EUR 50,000 towards the upkeep of the infrastructure necessary for launching launchers. The remaining EUR 60,000 will be for Estonian businesses and research and development institutions for making offers within the obligatory research programmes of the ESA.

Mihhail Stalnuhhin took the floor during the debate.

The deadline for motions to amend the Bill is 5 June.

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/et/201506021000#PKP-16957

Video recordings of the Riigikogu sittings can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu (NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service

Urmas Seaver

T: 631 6352; 50 39 907

urmas.seaver@riigikogu.ee

Questions: press@riigikogu.ee

 

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