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Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas replied to the interpellation concerning the obligations and expenses of Estonia in connection with the immigration crisis in the European Union (No. 12), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Martin Helme, Uno Kaskpeit, Henn Põlluaas, Mart Helme, Arno Sild, Raivo Põldaru and Jaak Madison on 4 May.

The interpellators referred to the fact that a wave of illegal immigration has hit the southern borders of the European Union and this has raised the issue of distribution of immigrants between Member States on the basis of quota. The interpellators asked the Prime Minister which obligations Estonia had assumed in the relevant talks and if the Government had calculated the costs that would be involved if the immigrants distributed on the basis of quota were accommodated in Estonia.

“Estonia has so far not participated in the programmes for resettlement or relocation of refugees and has maintained the position that it must remain voluntary for Member States,” Rõivas said. “We have preferred to express our solidarity with financial and technical help to the countries that are suffering under migration pressure.”

Prime Minister explained that if applicants for international protection are received, with whom the proceedings for international protection are conducted in Estonia, then they are sent to the accommodation centre where the cost per asylum seeker is 324 euro per month. This is supplemented by the general one-year readiness fee of the accommodation centre in the amount of 101,000 euro that does not depend on how many people there are in the centre.

If persons who have already received international protection arrive in Estonia, and are sent to local governments at once, then the Estonian state spends an average of 1800 euro on the language training and translation service for one refugee as an initial estimation, the Prime Minister said. He added that circa 400 euro per month is spent on providing home to a refugee household, and in such case the period of the active support provided by the state is two years.

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said that the European Commission has allocated more than 10 million euro to Estonia for seven years through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. The state will have to add 25 percent of co-financing for the implementation of the projects. One-fifth of the allocation, that is, approximately 2.5 million will have to be spent directly on asylum issues, the rest is intended for integration and activities of voluntary or forced return. If necessary, the amounts designated for asylum issues can be increased at the expense of other fields.

If Estonia decides to participate in the resettlement or relocation, the European Commission will add 6000 euro as a lump sum payment per each person brought here, and Estonia will not have to add anything to that by way of mandatory self-financing.

Rõivas stressed that the Estonian Government had not yet approved its official position but he expressed his personal attitude that it is neither possible nor reasonable for Estonia to stay away completely from resolution of the crisis, but Estonia cannot help more than is feasible for us.

The Prime Minister said that, according to the calculation of the European Commission, Estonia’s share in the resolution of the problem of refugees would be nearly two per cent but in his opinion this is still unfairly high and infeasible for Estonia.

“Estonia’s possibilities to participate in the resolution of this problem should be proportional to the size of the country,” said Rõivas in whose opinion the GDP or the population of the country, or the arithmetic mean of them may be taken as the basis for calculation. In his opinion, the quota that has been proposed now is about 8–9 times higher than should be in a solution which is fair for Estonia and corresponding to the capacities of Estonia.

“The size of Estonia accounts for 0.2 per cent rather than two per cent in the European Union,” Rõivas said. “By GDP, we account for 0.14 per cent of the European Union; by the size of population, we account for 0.26 per cent.”

The Prime Minister said that Estonia prefers to talk about voluntary basis and not mandatory quota, and a voluntary agreement should take into account the size of countries more fairly.

The Prime Minister also replied to interpellations concerning the compensation for housing (No. 8) and national bonds (No. 14).

The Minister of Health and Labour Rannar Vassiljev replied to the interpellation of Members of the Riigikogu concerning the declaration of the Estonian Primary Care Association in connection with the Regulation “Updating of Primary Health Centres” (No. 20).

Member of the Riigikogu Mihhail Stalnuhhin withdrew the interpellation concerning the problems relating to the reorganisation of Narva Children’s Home (No. 7), submitted to the Minister of Social Protection Margus Tsahkna by 13 Members of the Riigikogu on 29 April.

The Minister of Finance Sven Sester replied to interpellations concerning the rise in fuel excise duty (No. 4), the closing of the offices of Eesti Energia (No. 5) and the Act on Amendments to the Income Tax Act (No. 17).

The interpellations to the Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse concerned the regulations established for the fishing of Baltic herring (No. 23) and the payment of agricultural subsidies (No. 27).

Nobody wanted to take the floor during the open microphone, and the Riigikogu sitting ended at 7.40 p.m.

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

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

Epp-Mare Kukemelk

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