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At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu passed the Acts that grant paid leave to persons who are caregivers to a close person with disability, raise the competitiveness of Estonian enterprises with high electricity costs, facilitate agreements on the acquisition of land in the public interest, and amend the renewable energy support scheme.

The Act on Amendments to the Employment Contracts Act, the Act on Amendments to the Family Benefits Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts, and the Social Welfare Act (596 SE), initiated by the Government, gives the person who works and who is a person close to an adult person with a profound disability, or an assigned caregiver, the right to receive five working days of paid care leave per year.

The aim of the paid care leave is to facilitate the staying in working life for employees with a caring burden by giving them additional free time for caring or organising the care for a close person with a profound disability, or for visiting a doctor.

The leave is remunerated on the basis of the minimum wage. In the application for and the calculation, payment and remuneration of the care leave, similar principles as in the application for and the calculation, payment and remuneration of the paid child leave are applied.

An employee applies for care leave from his or her employer. The amount of the leave pay compensated from the state budget is calculated and paid to the employee by the employer who has to submit an application to the Social Insurance Board for the amount to be compensated to be transferred from the state budget.

An employee has the right to the leave if he or she is a parent, grandparent, sister, brother, child or grandchild of an adult person with a profound disability. Also, if he or she is a spouse, or a registered partner within the meaning of the Registered Partnership Act, a guardian, or a caregiver assigned by the local government.

During the proceedings, amendments were incorporated into the Act, which aim to analyse and propose possible solutions for extending the right to the leave to persons who work as natural persons on the basis of a contract for the supply of services under the law of obligations or who engage in professions in public law as independent officials. The Government will have to draw up an analysis by 2020. By 2020, the Government will also have to draw up an analysis to explain the criteria on the basis of which the care needs of persons will be identified, and how persons with care needs will be defined.

The Act enters into force on 1 July.

Marika Tuus-Laul (Centre Party) and Helmen Kütt (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.

71 members of the Riigikogu voted for the passing of the Act. Seven were against, and there was one abstention.

The Riigikogu also passed the Act on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Tobacco Act (595 SE), initiated by the Government. Its aim is to raise the competitiveness of Estonian undertakings in the processing industry or information activities sector with a high proportion of electricity costs by enabling them to consume electricity at a more favourable excise duty rate. The more favourable excise duty rate is 0.5 euro per MWh which is nearly nine times lower than the ordinary excise duty rate of 4.47 euro per MWh.

To receive the reduction, the energy management system of the undertaking has to be effective and economic, and its electro-intensity has to be at least 20 per cent. Electro-intensity shows the proportion of electricity energy in the added value created. The permit for the consumption of electricity at a reduced rate can be applied for through the Tax and Customs Board, and the permit is valid for an indefinite period, provided that the undertaking complies with the reporting obligation and other requirements provided in the Act.

The Act also changes the issue of a permit for exemption from excise duty on alcohol and a permit for exemption from excise duty on energy. The Act also makes amendments in order to ensure better legal clarity or to solve problems that have arisen in practice. For example, the Act specifies the procedure for the destruction of excise goods on which excise duty has not been paid, and amends the possibilities for denaturing alcohol. Instead of providing for a specific excise duty rate for solid substitute for tobacco, a principle is set out that the same excise duty rate is applied to solid substitute for tobacco as is applied to smoking tobacco.

In the course of the second reading, two amendments were made. The first of them extends the list of persons entitled to apply for a permit for exemption from excise duty on energy. The other motion to amend specifies that, to obtain a retroactive excise duty refund, the undertaking who receives a permit for exemption from excise duty on energy has to comply with all conditions for the consumption of electricity with a reduced excise duty, including the 20% electro-intensity requirement, also in the period for which it is asking the refund.

Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Centre Party) took the floor during the debate.

71 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act and seven voted against.

At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu also approved the Act on Acquisition of Immovables in the Public Interest (598 SE), initiated by the Government, which facilitates reaching agreements regarding acquisition of land with land owners and thereby speeds up the completion of utility works in the public interest, like for example Rail Baltic, the state border or a highway.

Upon the acquisition of immovables, a payment consisting of the value of the immovable and a compensation for the patrimonial damage and the loss of profit is offered to the owners. Additional benefits are added to that: if an agreement is reached, a motivational payment of 20 per cent is added, which cannot be lower than 0.8 times or higher than 50 times the average gross wage in the previous year. If a building used for residential purposes or a dwelling needs to be acquired in the public interest, an additional benefit is provided for for the loss of housing in order to compensate for the accompanying emotional damage. This benefit is 10 per cent of the payment. A benefit for the administration is also provided for for every party to the proceedings.

If it is necessary to make a very small cut from a plot of land, expedited procedure is proposed to the land owner. No valuation is carried out in the course of that. In such a case, the payment is fixed, and it is 0.3 times the average gross monthly wage (355 euro at present), to which a motivational payment is added.

Alternatives can also be offered to the landowner. Instead of selling the immovable, it can be exchanged for a similar immovable, or the boundaries of the immovable can be altered. Reallocation will contribute to reaching agreements with landowners, which in turn will allow for avoiding expropriation. The difference in the values of the land, resulting from the land consolidation, is compensated for by the participants.

If no agreement is reached with the owner of the immovable, the minister responsible for the field or the local authority will make an expropriation decision. The payment determined in earlier proceedings is taken as the basis.

The Act replaces the current Immovables Expropriation Act.

Erki Savisaar (Centre Party) took the floor during the debate.

71 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act and eight were against.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act, the Energy Sector Organisation Act and the Natural Gas Act (576 SE), initiated by the Government. It amends the renewable energy support scheme and the regulation concerning the direct line.

The Act amends the renewable energy support scheme because the objectives set for the supports will be met in the coming years. The Act sets out that if the generation volume of the existing generating installations is not sufficient to achieve the state’s target for generation of electricity from renewable energy sources or for electricity generated in an efficient cogeneration regime, the Government will, at the proposal of the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, organise an adjudication to obtain additional generation volume.

Under the Act, small producers can receive renewable energy support under the old scheme if the generating installation generates electricity with a capacity of up to 50 kW and electricity is generated at the end of 2020 at the latest. Producers of electricity produced with generating installations with an electric capacity from 50 kW to 1 MW have to participate in adjudications organised for them, in order to receive support.

According to the amendment arising from the state aid permission, producers who have made major investments into their generating installations before 2017 receive support under the old scheme.

In order to facilitate small-scale production of electricity with generating installations with a rated output of 100 kW to 200 kW, the requirements for small-scale producers are loosened. For example, in the future, they will not be required to have s share capital of at least 31,950 euro, and that will allow also for example apartment associations to produce electricity with limited-capacity installations.

With motions to amend, the Economic Affairs Committee merged two Bills (290 SE and 576 SE) amending the Electricity Market Act into one Act. In the course of the second reading, motions to amend had been submitted, the most important ones of which concerned the renewable energy subsidies, the flexibility of the use of the proceeds from trade in statistics, and the impact analysis for the biomass used in trade in statistics.

In the case of an adjudication, 53.7 euro/MWh, that is, the current subsidy rate, is the ceiling of the subsidy. At the same time, the subsidy paid and the electricity market price in aggregate cannot exceed 93 euro/MWh.

Also, the regulation concerning the establishment of the network was eased to increase the competitiveness of the economy, and amendments arising from pan-European directly applicable network rules for the electricity system and market were incorporated.

In order to ensure compliance of the Natural Gas Act with the directive and regulations on the rules on the European Union’s common gas market, the principles for sanctioning a vertically integrated undertaking in a situation where the undertaking fails to comply with the obligations set out in the Act are amended in the Natural Gas Act. The rate of the new sanction is up to 10 % of the annual turnover of the vertically integrated undertaking.

During the debate, Martin Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Artur Talvik (Estonian Free Party), Kristen Michal (Reform Party), Jaanus Marrandi (Social Democratic Party) and Sven Sester (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union) presented their positions. In their remarks, Kristen Michal and Sven Sester spoke in favour of the adoption of the Act, and Martin Helme, Artur Talvik and Jaanus Marrandi spoke against it.

51 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act, 27 voted against, and there were two abstentions.

Fourteen Bills passed the second reading:

The Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund Act and the Health Insurance Act (602 SE), initiated by the Government, will provide for reduction of the number of the members of the Supervisory Board of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund from fifteen to six. The main aim of the amendment is to make the work of the Supervisory Board of the Health Insurance Fund more efficient. The supervisory board will include, by virtue of their office, the Minister of Health and Labour, the Minister of Finance, as well as members appointed by the Government of the Republic: two members on the proposal of the Estonian Employers’ Confederation, a member on the proposal of the Estonian Trade Union Confederation and a member on the proposal of the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People.

The explanatory memorandum notes that standing advisory committees have been formed at the Supervisory Board of the Health Insurance Fund to involve representatives of the health sector in the development of health insurance and in the decision-making processes of the supervisory board. Through the advisory committees, when making decisions and forming positions, it is possible to involve the opinions of a significantly wider range of representatives of the health sector than those represented in the Supervisory Board of the Health Insurance Fund earlier.

A standing advisory committee to discuss the issues concerning the strategic development of the health insurance fund and the national health insurance was formed under the current Health Insurance Fund Act at a meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Health Insurance Fund this February. In addition, the committee on the list of health services who will give opinions on amending the list of health services will be established at the Management Board of the Health Insurance Fund under the Health Insurance Act. As of January 2018, the activities of the medicinal products committee have also been transferred from the Ministry of Social Affairs to the Health Insurance Fund.

The Bill will provide for additional requirements for the members of the supervisory board appointed by the Government of the Republic in order to reduce the possibilities of conflict of interest in the Supervisory Board of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.

The initial version of the Bill provided for reduction of the number of the members of the Supervisory Board of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund from fifteen to seven, but, with an amendment made during the second reading, the number of the members of the supervisory board will be reduced to six. According to the amendment, the Chairman of the State Budget Control Select Committee of the Riigikogu will not be a member of the supervisory board.

During the debate, Maris Lauri (Reform Party), Monika Haukanõmm (Estonian Free Party), Jevgeni Ossinovski (Social Democratic Party), Urmas Kruuse (Reform Party), Aivar Kokk (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union) and Eiki Nestor (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.

The Bill on Amendments to the Trade Unions Act and the Collective Labour Dispute Resolution Act (604 SE), initiated by the Social Affairs Committee, will provide for the possibility to also hold a legal person liable in the event of violation of obligations provided for in the Trade Unions Act and the Collective Labour Dispute Resolution Act. In current law there is no reference to the liability of legal person. Only a natural person who is an employer can be held liable.

The Bill on Amendments to the 2014–2020 Structural Assistance Act and Other Acts (establishment of a single application service) (628 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for the consolidation of the assistance granting services of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Rural Affairs into the State Shared Service Centre.

At present, the support granted to implement the regional programme in the area of government of the Ministry of Rural Affairs is allocated through Enterprise Estonia. According to the Bill, the State Shared Service Centre will allocate it. In addition, the programmes aimed at regional development that are funded from the state budget, for example, the Setomaa and Peipsiveere development programmes, the light and non-motorized traffic routes support scheme, the sparsely populated areas programme and the small islands programme will be transferred to the State Shared Service Centre.

The Ministry of the Environment is planning a support measure under which the costs of construction of water supply and sewerage lines inside registered immovables of residential buildings will be reimbursed to natural persons. Under the current law, support can be granted to natural persons only in the role of a final recipient, that is, the beneficiary mediates support, such as study scholarships and research grants, to the person.

The Bill will change the aim of the programme for regional investment support. The reference to the effect that the programme has to be linked to the welfare, study, sports and leisure conditions of children, young people, families, the elderly and disabled people will be omitted from the aim of the programme. In the future, the conditions of the programme will be established by a regulation of a minister, and not by a Government’s regulation.

During the debate, Lauri Luik (Reform Party) and Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Centre Party) took the floor.

The Bill on Amendments to the Road Transport Act (621 SE), initiated by the Economic Affairs Committee, will specify some provisions on the basis of European Union law. For example, the amendments will add a requirement under which undertakings engaged in transport in the European Union must ensure correct use, good technical condition and proper storage of their motor vehicles and their trailers. These obligations must also be performed upon the carriage of passengers for hire or reward. The regulation of good repute in the current Act will be amended by adding a reference to the necessary elements of a misdemeanour in the Traffic Act that regulate intentional corruption of the data of a digital tachographs or driver card.

Starting from 2019, a sanctioning fine, which will not be recorded in the criminal records database, will be imposed on carriers if they fail to pay the road user charge. An amendment made to the Bill during the second reading provides that administrative measures (e.g. revocation of the transport permit) may also be applied, in addition to the sanctioning fine. The data concerning sanctioning fines will be entered into the e-file, and they will be given legal effect.

The Bill on Amendments to the Radiation Act, the General Part of the Environmental Code Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (623 SE), initiated by the Government, will transpose the relevant EU Directive Euratom, laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation. The deadline for the transposition of the directive was 6 February.

Requirements to regulate the radon field will be added – there will be a new provision delegating authority to the Minister of the Environment to establish a reference level for indoor radon concentrations in workplaces, the procedure for radon measurements, and the obligations of the employer with regard to workplaces with a heightened radon risk. In connection with that, a relevant reference will also be added to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Labour Inspectorate will be included among the bodies exercising supervision over the Radiation Act, in addition to the Environmental Inspectorate and the Environmental Board. National reference levels for indoor radon concentrations in workplaces will be established by a Regulation. It will be required that radon measurements be carried out in workplaces within the areas with a heightened radon risk, and that notification be given of workplaces where the radon concentration continues to exceed the national reference level, despite the action taken to reduce radon risk.

As compared to the current Radiation Act, the Bill is more specific about human activities which involve the presence of natural radiation sources, and lists actions in the event of which measures (e.g. notification, protection measures, and radiation safety assessments) must be implemented to protect workers and members of the public. Such actions include, amongst others, cement production, operation of ground water filtration facilities and extraction of rare earths, where, in the course of various working processes, workers may receive greater than usual radiation doses. Members of the public may also receive radiation doses when material from activities which involve the presence of natural radiation sources is sent to reuse without a prior radiological control, for example, it is used in the production of building materials.

In the medical sector, the use of medical radiation equipment for purposes other than application of medical exposure will be added as a new issue. This may be for example radiological health assessment for employment purposes or for immigration purposes, or the use of ionising radiation for the identification of concealed objects within the human body or for detection of concealed humans as part of cargo screening. It will be taken into account that, when carrying out non-medical exposure procedures, a holder of a radiation practice licence must ensure compliance with safety requirements equivalent to those for medical exposure procedures.

In addition, smaller amendments will be made – terms will be added, existing terms will be specified, and in view of national needs, the register of radiation practice licences, radiation sources and nuclear materials will be merged with the environmental decisions information system.

The Bill on Amendments to the Atmospheric Air Protection Act (624 SE), initiated by the Government, will transpose into Estonian law the EU directive on national commitments to reduce the emissions of the five main air pollutants.

The directive establishes national commitments to reduce pollutant emission for 2020 and 2030, and the requirements of the national programme for reducing emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants. The programme sets targets and measures for reducing atmospheric pollutants that are mandatory nationally. The directive covers the following pollutants: sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, fine particulate matter, ammonia, and non-methane volatile organic compounds. Reduction of these substances in air pollution improves ambient air quality and brings about a positive impact upon ecosystems as well as the living and natural environment.

The directive to be transposed calls for strengthening of transnational cooperation in reducing pollutant emission. Among other things, countries will have to assess to what extent national emission sources are likely to have an impact on air quality in their territories and neighbouring countries, and describe emission reduction measures. It will also have to be ensured that the programme is coherent with other relevant plans and programmes. Up to now, countries have to a large extent been free to give content to the programme for themselves.

The directive is relatively flexible in terms of compliance with the limits, and allows countries to combine different measures according to their needs and availabilities, should there arise a risk of non-compliance with the commitments to reduce pollutant emission for some reasons. For example, as one measure, in a situation where, in a given year a country cannot comply with its emission reduction commitments due to an exceptionally cold winter, the emissions for the year in question may be reported as a three-years average to comply with those commitments. The three-year average emission is calculated on the basis of the year in question, the year preceding that year and the year following it. Upon implementation of flexibilities, the European Commission must be informed thereof.

The first national programme for reducing atmospheric pollutants will have to be provided to the European Commission by 1 April 2019, and it will have to be reviewed at least every four years.

The aim of the Bill on Amendments to the Hunting Act and the Administrative Co-operation Act (633 SE), initiated by the Environment Committee, is to ensure that the hunting tourists who wish to hunt birds in Estonia have sufficient knowledge of the hunting rules in force in Estonia and the good hunting practice in Estonia, as a precondition for lawful behaviour. The Bill will amend the Hunting Act by adding the requirement that a person to whom a hunting certificate is issued in Estonia on the basis of a valid hunting certificate issued in a foreign state will be issued a small game hunting permit for hunting waterfowl in the case when he or she has undergone training in the field of hunting. The requirements for the training and the training provider and the volume of the training, and the procedure for conducting the training will be established by a regulation of the Minister of the Environment.

During the debate, Tarmo Kruusimäe (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union), Raivo Aeg (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union) and Rainer Vakra (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.

The Bill on Amendments to the Weapons Act, the Strategic Goods Act, the Explosives Act and Other Acts (615 SE), initiated by the Government, will establish a legal framework in order that Estonian undertakings could begin to manufacture, maintain, import and export weapons of war, ammunition, munitions of war and combat vehicles. The current legislation does not allow for this.

The explanatory memorandum notes that the Estonian defence industry is taking large steps to become a credible partner on the global scale for various national security forces as well as for other defence industry companies. The Estonian defence industry companies are ready to produce several defence products, and they stand out as developers and manufacturers of “smart solutions”. At the same time it is of critical importance in terms of Estonian military defence that also undertakings located in Estonia have the ability to manufacture the weapons of war, ammunition and munitions of war, and to maintain the weapons of war necessary for defence. However, at present, the Estonian legal space does not allow for that, or allows with great restrictions.

With undertakings located in Estonia having the possibility to handle weapons of war and munitions of war, on the one hand, the Defence Forces will be able to manage their armament more sustainably, and, on the other hand, defence industry companies will be able to expand their activities and to offer their products also outside Estonia.

Hannes Hanso (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.

The Bill on Amendments to the Military Service Act and Other Acts (607 SE), initiated by the Government, will provide for the possibility to restrict the validity of or application for certain rights and permits granted to persons who evade conscript service and reservist trainings which is an obligation arising from the Constitution.

Pursuant to the Bill, it will be possible for the Defence Forces and the Defence Resources Agency to file an action with an administrative court to suspend the validity or the issuing of the right to drive power-driven vehicle, the right to command a recreational craft and personal watercraft, a weapon permit, a weapon acquisition permit, a fishing card and hunting rights, in addition to imposing penalty payments and punishments for misdemeanours. The planned measures are similar to the measures already in force in regard to maintenance debtors.

According to the Bill on Amendments to § 102 of the Traffic Act (635 SE), initiated by the Government, doctors employed in the Defence Forces will be allowed to carry out medical examinations of applicants for a driving licence and to issue the relevant medical certificate. At present, only family physicians and occupational health doctors working in the medical centres of the Defence Forces have such a right. All doctors in the Defence Forces are allowed to provide general medical care and emergency medical care regardless of their speciality.

The explanatory memorandum notes that, in preparation of the staff of the reserve units of the Defence Forces, 700-800 conscripts are trained to be drivers of vehicles of various categories every year, and they must undergo the relevant medical examination.

There are seven medical centres in total at the Defence Forces units engaged in training in various parts of Estonia, but only three of them employ doctors who are allowed to carry out medical examination of drivers of power-driven vehicles. A total of 13 doctors work in these medical centres. The Bill has been drafted on the basis of a proposal from the Defence Forces.

The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Flag Act (599 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, is to mention in the Act the title and the authors of the national anthem of Estonia, which is used as the musical signature on the raising of the national flag on the Tall Hermann Tower. Subsection 3 (2) of the Estonian Flag Act will be amended and worded as follows: “On the hoisting of the Estonian flag on the Pikk Hermann tower, the opening phrases of the national anthem of Estonia “Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm” [“My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy”] by Friedrich Pacius (lyrics by Johann Voldemar Jannsen) are used as a musical signature, and the musical signature used when the Estonian flag is lowered is the signature created on the basis of a fragment of “Mu isamaa on minu arm” [“My Fatherland Is My Love”] by Gustav Ernesaks (lyrics by Lydia Koidula).”.

Under the Bill on Amendments to the Chancellor of Justice Act (609 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, the institution of the Chancellor of Justice will become the national human rights institution in Estonia. The Chancellor of Justice will also monitor compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Under the Bill on Amendments to the Chancellor of Justice Act, the Chancellor of Justice will have the function of protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, and investigating complaints related to violation of their rights in Estonia.

The Personal Data Protection Bill (616 SE), initiated by the Government, regulates the use, processing and supervision of personal data.

As of 25 May, a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council regulates personal data protection law, and the Bill aims to implement it in Estonian law. The general principles of the protection of personal data will not change.

The general regulation gives people stronger control over their personal data. Persons will have easier access to data concerning them, and they will have to be informed more thoroughly and clearly of how their data are processed. If a person does not wish his or her personal data to be available for processing any longer and there is no legal basis for storing the data, the data will be deleted. For example, a person may demand that Google, a telephone communications operator or a mail order portal stop the processing of his or her personal data and delete them. Undertakings and organisations will also undertake to inform people of attacks on their personal data. They will also have to inform the Data Protection Inspectorate.

The liability for violations will be greater, and the maximum amount of fine for ignoring the principles of the processing of personal data may be up to 20 million euro or up to four per cent of the turnover of legal person.

The general regulation leaves Member States the possibility to specify special cases of the use of personal data. According to it, for example, the processing of the personal data of a minor is permitted if he or she is at least 13–16 years old. According to the Bill, the processing of the personal data of a child will be permitted in the case when the child is at least 13 years old.

An amendment made during the second reading will allow, among other things, to process personal data for journalistic purposes and to disclose them in the media without the authorisation of the person in the case when there is an overriding public interest to do so and this does not excessively damage the rights of the person. The necessary elements of offences were amended for the cases when employees or members of staff unlawfully process personal data which have become known to them in the performance of their official duties or functions. The Bill provides for a fine in the amount of up to 200 fine units for such misuse of personal data.

During the debate, Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Centre Party), Aadu Must (Centre Party), Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party), Jüri Adams (Estonian Free Party), Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) and Krista Aru (Estonian Free Party) took the floor.

The Reform Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 37 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 41 were against. Thus the Bill passed the second reading.

The Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (617 SE), initiated by the Government, will change the immigration quota where top specialists will be excluded from the calculation of the quota. At present, such persons cannot come to Estonia in several consecutive years because the immigration quota is full. “Top specialist” means a foreigner with professional training to whom the Estonian employer has to pay at least double the average gross monthly salary in Estonia.

The Bill will introduce the requirement of level A2 Estonian language proficiency for foreigners who have resided in Estonia on the basis of a temporary residence permit for employment for at least five years and who wish to apply for a new or to extend an existing residence permit. This requirement will apply only to new entrants who will receive residence permits after the entry into force of the amendment on 15 July 2018.

The Bill will extend the maximum duration of short-time employment from the current nine months to one year in order to mitigate the labour shortage due to the cyclical development of the economy.

In the course of the second reading, a number of motions to amend had been submitted on how to prevent and disrupt illegal working by aliens. For example, the employer will have a notification obligation when an alien commences work in Estonia. A penalty payment for failure to notify will be provided for for the employer. The rates of punishment for legal persons for using illegal foreign labour force will be increased from 3200 euro to 32 000 euro. The possibility to impose a prohibition on business with regard to persons who have been punished for the same misdemeanour earlier will be extended. It will also be possible to exclude from a public procurement a tenderer who has been punished previously for violation of conditions of employment of an alien in Estonia. Starting from 15 August, in the case of workers posted to Estonia, employers will have the obligation to submit data on the posting to the Labour Inspectorate before the worker commences employment.

The Riigikogu suspended the second reading of a Bill:

The Bill on Amendments to the Use of Privatisation Proceeds Act (614 SE), initiated by the Government, is intended to create the possibility to allocate support from the ownership reform reserve fund to solve the problems relating to housing development and abandoned buildings that emerged in the course or as a consequence of the reform, and to churches. An amendment made during the second reading is intended to grant support also for restoration and conservation of architectural monuments restituted in the course of the ownership reform.

During the debate, Jüri Adams (Estonian Free Party), Toomas Kivimägi (Reform Party), Märt Sults (Centre Party), Heimar Lenk (Centre Party), Tarmo Kruusimäe (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union), Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party), Henn Põlluaas (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party), Peeter Ernits (Centre Party) and Oudekki Loone (Centre Party) took the floor.

The Reform Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 45 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 40 were against, and the second reading of the Bill was suspended.

A Bill passed the first reading:

The Bill on Amendments to the Gambling Tax Act and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act (632 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the distribution of the gambling tax received into the state budget between the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the areas of government of the ministries. The aim of the amendment is more transparent and purposeful distribution of state budget funds.

According to the Bill, the gambling tax revenue will be used to support the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and various projects: to support projects related to science, education, children and young people through the budget of the Ministry of Education and Research; to support Olympic preparation, sports and cultural projects through the budget of the Ministry of Culture; to support projects relating to people with gambling addiction, families, medicine, welfare, elderly persons and disabled persons through the budget of the Ministry of Social Affairs; and to grant regional investment aid through the budget of the Ministry of Finance. As ministries will plan how the revenue planned from gambling tax will be used for supports, the supports will no longer be distributed through the Gambling Tax Council and it will be eliminated.

The explanatory memorandum notes that the proportion of the gambling tax proceeds allocated to the Cultural Endowment of Estonia will increase in order to create a grant for the teaching staff in the field of arts and folk culture to support their creative activities. As a new support, the supporting of activities related to the fight against sports competition manipulation will be added. The supporting of competitive sports projects of sports umbrella organisations for disabled people will be transferred from the Ministry of Social Affairs to the Ministry of Culture.

Under the Bill, the funding of the Estonian Red Cross will no longer be provided for in the Act. In the future, the funding of the Estonian Red Cross will continue through the budget of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Under the current Act, the gambling tax is divided between the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, the Gambling Tax Council, the regional investment aid of the Ministry of Finance, and the Estonian Red Cross.

During the debate, Tarmo Kruusimäe (Pro Patria and Res Publica Union), Külliki Kübarsepp (Estonian Free Party), Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party) and Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Centre Party) took the floor.

The Free Party Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 12 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 37 voted against. Thus, the motion was not supported and the first reading of the Bill was concluded.

A Bill was dropped from the proceedings of the Riigikogu:

The Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act (610 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Igor Gräzin, Krista Aru, Toomas Kivimägi, Mart Helme and Erki Savisaar, provided that the words “the European Union Affairs Committee” were to be globally replaced in the Act with the words “the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Affairs Committee” in appropriate case forms.

The Bill was intended to bring the name of a standing committee of the Riigikogu – the European Union Affairs Committee into conformity with the changed reality, without thereby changing the current functions and competence of the committee.

The Constitutional Committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 32 members of the Riigikogu supported the motion, 13 were against and there were two abstentions. Thus the Bill was dropped from the proceedings of the Riigikogu.

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.)

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Kristi Sobak

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