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At its today’s sitting, the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) decided to submit a Bill amending the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act for legislative proceedings. The Bill will enable to conduct the plenary sittings of the Riigikogu by remote attendance.

Chairman of the Committee Paul Puustusmaa said that although the Committees of the Riigikogu had held their sittings via electronic means during the emergency situation, such an option was not available to the plenary sittings according to current legislation, and thus the members of the Riigikogu had to be physically present at Toompea to attend sittings.

“The present outbreak of the coronavirus has shown that when such circumstances occur, it is important that it would be possible to hold sittings also by remote attendance,” he pointed out the need for the amendment. “Pursuant to the Constitution, the efficient functioning of the Riigikogu as a constitutional institution has to be ensured, and this also applies to the cases when the Riigikogu is not able to come together in the Session Hall at Toompea due to compelling reasons.”

The amendment would enable the Riigikogu to convene in the remote attendance format with the help of electronic means, and continue its regular work, i.e. initiating of Bills, conducting proceedings on them, holding of Question Times, submitting of interpellations, appointing higher state officials to office.

Hanno Pevkur, whom the Committee appointed to present the Bill, said that pursuant to the Bill, the Board of the Riigikogu would make the decision on holding a sitting by remote attendance for serious reasons and establish the requirements for conducting of such a sitting and the procedure for opening the sitting. Pevkur added that, pursuant to the motion, the electronic sitting could be conducted if more than half of the members of the Riigikogu were present.

Remote voting is already being used in the lower houses of the parliaments of Belgium and Spain. In connection with the current COVID-19 pandemic, the parliaments of Cyprus, Latvia, Poland and Slovenia have started to work for allowing remote voting at plenary sittings or conducting plenary sittings by remote attendance.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
+372 631 6356, +372 515 3903
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