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At today’s sitting of the Riigikogu, deliberation of the matter of significant national importance “Possibility of life in the country” was held. The speakers stressed the importance of enterprise and national support in the development and diversification of rural life.

In the opinion of Chairman of the Rural Affairs Committee Aivar Kokk, the recent trends and the changes related to carrying out the administrative reform have given a signal that rural development needs systemic national support and attention. “It is connected with employment, education system, logistics, the availability of public services and meeting social needs better,” Kokk listed. “We must create the necessary working and living environment for all people who live in rural areas.”

Kokk said that it was necessary to be more active in the diversification of rural economy and the living environment in rural areas, in order to also offer alternative employment opportunities that are based on local resources and potential, besides agriculture.

In his report, Kokk stressed the importance of enterprise. “Good living environment and high standard of living are based on a strong and stable economy,” Kokk said. “A strong economy relies on strong businesses that create high added value and pay taxes. Shaping an environment favourable to businesses is the most important role of the state in the development of enterprise, which needs constant engagement. If this role is performed successfully, it benefits the whole Estonian business environment.”

Sulev Lääne, lecturer on governance at the School of Governance, Law and Society of Tallinn University, introduced the study “Key Challenges and Recommendations in the Development of Local Government and the Regional Level”.

Lääne said that representatives of the state and local governments, local government associations, and researchers should definitely participate in the process of shaping local government policy, and organisations of civil society and of undertakings should be involved as partners. Lääne would also emphasise the role of entrepreneurs.

Lääne also pointed out that e-governance had reached the local level. “We are in an era where we are moving from physical structures to digital structures,” he said. Lääne said that, in order to address these challenges, it was necessary to create the capability to analyse the ongoing developments and to project what the local government system would look like for example in ten or twenty years’ time. In doing so, the issues relating to information and communications technologies, the development of the virtual world and e-services, and innovation should be taken into account. “We are speaking more and more of the e-state but the concept of ‘e-local government’ is still alien to us. Considering these developments and the good dispositions of the Estonian society, giving content to e-local government could be one of the development opportunities,” Lääne suggested.

Tiit Niilo, entrepreneur and promoter of rural life, owner of Nopri farm, made a proposal that Estonia should be the cleanest country in the world. For that, 51 per cent of all land should be organic.

“We have excelled in the waste economy, and we have set a mark in the world with it, we all know that. Smart innovation in everything, transparency, credibility and the possibility for visitors to experience it authentically, as it is here – this is what we should offer,” Niilo said. The farmer said that it would be possible to manage fields and forests cleanly, to produce clean food, if the whole society contributed to it. His Nopri farm is not organic at present, because the expenses exceed the incomes. “We are unable to export, we are unable to offer our exclusive product to the expensive market, this is the main concern,” he said.

Niilo said that there was also no differentiation in the Estonian economy. Besides, in his opinion, the continuation of rural life that is based on subsidies is not sustainable in its present unequal form, and today’s organic farming seems like a waste of common money. “200,000 hectares of organic land has been cultivated, but the produce is scarce, the export volume is a mere 30 million euro a year,” he noted. The farmer said that the European Union gave the possibility to live on double subsidy.

During the debate, Urmas Kruuse (Reform Party), Anneli Ott (Centre Party), Külliki Kübarsepp (Estonian Free Party), Tanel Talve (Social Democratic Party) and Peeter Ernits took the floor.

The Riigikogu passed an Act:

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Weapons Act and the State Fees Act (654 SE), initiated by the National Defence Committee. The amendments passed today bring the Act into conformity with the relevant European Union directive amending the relevant Council Directive on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (Firearms Directive).

73 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act, two were against, and there were four abstentions.

The amendment includes into the scope of application of the Act alarm and signal weapons and acoustic weapons with regard to which no rules have been established so far. The amendments allow to handle, incl. to manufacture and repair, such weapons also in Estonia in accordance with the requirements in force in the European Union. Uniform technical specifications for such weapons are in force in the European Union as of September 2018. Uniform requirements for marking firearms and their parts were also established in the European Union.

The amendments were necessary in order that Estonian undertakings could also manufacture weapons or sell them with proper marking. The amendments specified the requirements for the marking of firearms, their essential components and ammunition. As of 14 September 2018, besides the national requirements, the technical specifications established by the European Commission have to be taken into account when marking firearms placed on the market, their essential components and ammunition.

Under the Act, persons who have passed a theory test and a practical test on handling firearms no longer have to take a new examination in order to acquire or own an acoustic weapon, gas weapon, pneumatic weapon or cut-and-thrust weapon in restricted commerce.

Two Bills passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:

The Bill on Amendments to the Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act (720 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for a provision delegating authority that will give the minister responsible for the field the possibility to provide that, in the future, applications, payment applications and other documents are to be submitted only electronically via the e-service environment.

The amendment is necessary in order that in the future, if necessary, it would be possible to fully transfer to using the electronic system of the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board in respect of the supports granted under the Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act. Although it is possible to submit an application electronically already now, there is no possibility to transfer to exclusively electronic application. The purpose of the transfer to the electronic system of the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board is to simplify the submission of applications and to shorten the proceedings. The amendment does not mean that, in the future, only the electronic system of the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board will have to be used in all support measures, but it will give the minister responsible for the field the right to consider this option separately for each support measure.

In addition, the Bill will organise and specify the provision concerning the determination of the support to be granted in a budgetary year and the funds designated for granting the support.

The Bill on Amendments to the Commercial Code and Other Acts (712 SE), initiated by the Government, will facilitate investment into Estonian private limited companies by persons located abroad. Under the current legislation, Estonian non-residents have difficulties with opening bank accounts on behalf of companies in Estonia which is however a prerequisite for founding a private limited company under the ordinary procedure, under the current law.

According to the Bill, it will be possible to use an account located in a bank or payment institution established in any Contracting State of the European Economic Area upon the foundation of a private limited company in Estonia. Under the current law, only a bank account in a bank established in Estonia may be used. An account is necessary because the monetary share capital contribution must be paid to the account upon the foundation of a private limited company. The Bill will have no impact on the establishment of public limited companies; a securities account in an Estonian bank will remain a requirement upon the establishment of a public limited company.

The amendments will also enable to make contributions to the accounts of companies located in the above-specified banks and payment institutions to increase share capital. According to the Bill, the entry of the e-mail address of an undertaking in the commercial register and change thereof will be exempt from the state fee. Currently, a EUR 18 state fee must be paid to change an entry.

In the course of the second reading, the Bill was amended by adding a new section which aims to ensure that persons who do not meet the requirements of the Bar Association Act would not act as members of the Bar Association. As an amendment concerning the Bar Association Act was included in the Bill, it was also necessary to change the title of the Bill.

At the beginning of today’s sitting of the Riigikogu, the justice of the Supreme Court Heiki Loot took his oath of office.

Photos of the sitting

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

 (NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

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