At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu approved the amendments to the Traffic Act which harmonise the requirements for type-approval of vehicles with other European Union Member States and amend the procedure for tachographs in road transport. The Road Administration becomes the market surveillance authority.
79 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act on Amendments to the Traffic Act, the State Fees Act and the Product Conformity Act (281 SE), initiated by the Government, and 6 voted against.
The amendments result mostly from amendments made to European Union law with the aim of greater road safety for road users and legal clarity. They implement the relevant EU Regulations concerning the type-approval and market surveillance of two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles, and agricultural and forestry vehicles, and tachographs in road transport.
The Road Administration is given the rights and obligations of a market surveillance authority. Thus the Road Administration can check that not only vehicles registered in the traffic register but also other vehicles subject to type-approval that are made available on the market for the population have a type-approval. Type-approvals prove that vehicles comply with established safety and environmental requirements. Besides, the EU single type-approval allows vehicles to be sold and used without restrictions in the EU.
The requirements for application, issue and revocation of cards of drivers of power-driven vehicles equipped with a mandatory tachograph in the Traffic Act are amended. The aim is to regulate in more detail the obligations of drivers of power-driven vehicles equipped with a mandatory tachograph in keeping records of driving and rest periods. The amendments will preclude conflicts of interest so that a driver or company observing driving and rest periods could not be the entity controlling digital tachographs. At the same time, surveillance officers are given the right to remove installation plaques of tachographs in the event of infringement.
Measures to reduce misuse of driver’s driver card are also provided. For that, in the future, issue of a new driver card to a driver will be refused during one month if the previous driver card has been revoked for the reason that another person used it.
With an amendment, users of motorised technical aid for moving are deemed to be pedestrians on the condition that they move at a speed not exceeding 20 km per hour. Thus, with the new Act, traffic rules for pedestrians will apply to self-balancing scooters and other technical aids for moving.
In the course of the second reading, the Riigikogu introduced amendments to the Act to prevent “driving licence tourism”. If a permanent resident of Estonia obtains a driving licence in a country where requirements are more lenient, he or she must take a driving theory test and a driving test to exchange the driving licence for an Estonian driving licence. The aim is to prevent exchanging of driving licences issued in foreign countries for Estonian ones in the cases where a person resided permanently in Estonia at the time when he or she obtained a driving licence. Also, the regulation concerning transaction for the purpose of monitoring compliance was introduced into the Act. It is necessary for example for monitoring products traded via the Internet.
The Act enters into force pursuant to general procedure, that is, on the tenth day following the date of publication in the Riigi Teataja.
The Riigikogu passed another Act and a Resolution:
The Riigikogu approved with 81 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Tax Information Exchange Act and the Taxation Act (322 SE), initiated by the Government. The Act transposes two amendments to the Administrative Cooperation Directive, and the relevant model for the exchange of information of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which provides for the communication of the information on an advance ruling of a tax authority only to the country whom the ruling may concern.
The amendments will enable the tax authorities of different countries to exchange information on advance rulings and the annual reports of large groups of undertakings.
Information exchange between tax authorities increases transparency in taxation and helps combat aggressive tax planning. Tax authorities will have a wider picture of the tax behaviour of undertakings operating across borders, and policy shapers will get a better overview of potential points of conflict between different tax systems.
As of 2015, we exchange information automatically in the EU regarding the remunerations, pensions and real estate incomes of people, and the remunerations of members of management boards. Starting from autumn 2017, we will begin to exchange information globally on various financial resources that tax residents of other countries are keeping in our financial institutions. By today, analogous information exchange with the USA has been implemented.
A binding advance ruling of a tax authority is a confirmation of taxation of a certain transaction or series of transactions which is binding for the tax authority. Exchange of information on advance rulings will involve no additional obligations for undertakings and it will concern only tax authorities. Information will be exchanged with all EU Member States in regard to binding advance cross-border rulings that have been issued since 2012. Such advance rulings number 46 in total.
The Act enters into force on the following day after its publication in the Riigi Teataja.
The Riigikogu approved with 75 votes in favour the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Increasing of the State Guarantee Given to the Nordic Investment Bank” (389 OE), submitted by the Government.
The Resolution of the Riigikogu grants consent to increase the guarantees of Estonia issued for two loan instruments of the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), as a result of which Estonia’s share in percentage of guarantees issued for NIB becomes equal to Estonia’s holding in the share capital of NIB.
NIB has two special loan instruments PIL (Project Investment Loan Facility) and MIL (Environmental Investment Loan Facility). Member countries undertake to guarantee loans made within the framework of these instruments. According to the Resolution of the Riigikogu, Estonia agrees to increase the state guarantee for project investment loans and project investment guarantees (PIL) made and issued by the Nordic Investment Bank from 13.1 million euro to 16.4 million euro, and the state guarantee for environmental investment loans and environmental investment loan guarantees (MIL) from 2.1 million euro to 2.7 million euro. NIB will enter into new guarantee contracts after the adjustment of guarantee commitments.
As a result of the Resolution, Estonia’s potential liability before NIB to guarantee PIL and MIL loans and guarantees thereof increases. In the history of the bank, during 40 years, a guarantee of member countries has been collected in the case of one project, and the realisation of a guarantee is considered not very likely.
NIB pays dividends to member countries according to their share of paid-in capital. Of the profit of 2015 which was around 215.4 million euro, 55 million euro was paid as dividends. Of that, Estonia’s share has been around 401 000 euro. According to the new holding, the amount of dividends due to Estonia would be around 495 000 euro.
The aim of NIB is to make long-term loans to investment projects in order to implement environment-friendly projects that strengthen the competitiveness of the Nordic and Baltic countries. Loans are made to both the private and public sector in the Nordic countries and elsewhere, in nearly 40 countries in total. The main areas of activity are energy, environment, transport, logistics, communication and innovation.
Two Bills passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the Securities Market Act and the Financial Supervision Authority Act (359 SE), initiated by the Government, will implement in Estonia the EU market abuse regulation establishing rules to avoid abuse of the securities market, including the stock exchange, in order to prevent illegal activities in trading in securities. Market abuses mainly appear as violation of the rules for the use of inside information, or market manipulation. This harms the transparency and reliability of the market, and the interests of investors.
The Bill will extend the competence of the Financial Supervision Authority. For example, under the current Act, the Financial Supervision Authority can issue a precept to request performance of the obligation of disclosure. According to the Bill, the Financial Supervision Authority will be able to disclose information if this has not been done in compliance with the requirements, or to correct false information that could influence the price movement of securities in the market. Also, it may warn the public of an infringement committed, to preclude investors from proceeding from false presumptions when carrying out transactions. This way the Financial Supervision Authority can respond to infringements more rapidly and flexibly.
At the same time, the Financial Supervision Authority will have the obligation to draw up and make public the procedure for processing the notifications of infringements received. There is no such obligation in the current Act, a notifier does not know for example if and how the Financial Supervision Authority plans to contact him or her to obtain additional information.
The Bill will raise the penalty payment rate for market abuses. In the event of an infringement by a natural person, the maximum rate will rise from 2 million euro to 5 million euro, and in the case of a legal person, from 10 million euro to 12 million euro, respectively. For the first infringement, a penalty payment of up to 5000 euro can be imposed on a natural person, and for following occasions, up to 50 000 euro. In the current Act, the rates are 1200 and 3200 euro, respectively. For legal persons, the penalty payment will be increased from 3200 euro to up to 32 000 euro for the first occasion, and from 32 000 to up to 100 000 euro for following occasions.
In the course of the second reading, two amendments were made to the Bill. One amendment extends to the EU directive, and the other is an amendment specifying the Bill.
The Bill on Amendments to the Packaging Act (358 SE), initiated by the Government, will transpose into Estonian law “the directive limiting the use of plastic bags”. The intention is to reduce the use of lightweight plastic bags to 90 plastic bags per person per year by the end of 2019. This number is intended to be brought down to 40 by the end of 2025. The deadline for the transposition of the directive was 27 November last year.
When the Act enters into force, other packaging options apart from plastic bags will have to be offered to customers in stores which is already being done. For example, paper, cloth and mesh bags but also reusable plastic bags are offered.
Starting from 2019, handing out free larger plastic bags will be prohibited in stores. This concerns for example the plastic bags handed out for purchases in large numbers during sales campaigns. The exemption will remain in force according to which smaller lightweight plastic bags can be used as primary packaging for loose food, for example when buying meat or vegetables, or for hygiene purposes when buying milk in plastic packaging.
In the course of the second reading, technical amendments were made to the Bill.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of two Bills:
The Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code and the Aliens Act (385 SE), initiated by the Government, is connected with preparation of the ratification of the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence or the Istanbul Convention.
The main amendments will criminalise harassment involving stalking, marriage against will, crippling female genital mutilation, and purchase of sex from a victim of trafficking in human beings. At the same time, the Bill extends the range of criminal offences committed against minors in the case of which the limitation period is suspended until the victim attains the age of majority.
Independently from the Istanbul Convention, the Bill will repeal the requirement according to which the coercive psychiatric treatment imposed by a court must be initially administered in the form of in-patient treatment. According to an amendment, outpatient coercive treatment may be applied at once, within the framework of which a medical treatment plan is established for the person, and the hospital regularly monitors compliance with the plan. The amendment will enable more flexible and effective use of resources in terms of both medical institutions and patients.
Heljo Pikhof, who took the floor on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction in the debate, was happy that the issues of violence against women and domestic violence had been brought into the focus of attention. She considered it important to protect all victims from all violence.
The Bill on Amendments to the Commercial Code and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (384 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for termination of servicing of people at the offices of the land registry departments and registration departments of Tartu County Court, and for encouraging them to use e-service. It will be possible to continue to examine data and file documents in court registers and to make print-outs of them in notaries’ offices or via a corresponding website. The Chamber of Notaries will have to ensure the possibility to examine business and public files in one notary’s office in Harju, Tartu, Pärnu and Ida-Viru counties.
It will still be possible for persons to see data and documents of companies, non-profit associations or foundations relating to them in the information system of the commercial register. At the same time, every registry card of a company, non-profit association or foundation in which all data entered into the commercial register or the non-profit associations and foundations register are visible is available free of charge. In the case of the land register, the owner of an immovable will also see data and documents relating to him or her free of charge.
The land registry departments and registration departments of Tartu County Court will manage all land registry and registration matters all over Estonia, and altogether eight offices will be closed for the public. According to statistics, already now e-services are used approximately ten times more often than services in the office. 343 certified print-outs were applied for from the land registry department, and 2145 from the registration department in 2015. Print-outs of the registry cards of the commercial register account for the largest share. In 90 per cent of cases, legal persons applied for such print-outs in 2015.
The land register, the ship registry, the marital property register, the commercial register, the non-profit associations and foundations register and the commercial pledge register are court registers.
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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