At today’s remote-participation sitting, the Riigikogu approved the Act that ensures that persons engaged in commercial fishing on sea and in inland water bodies are treated equally upon the grant of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund supports.
The amendments proposed in the Act on Amendments to the Fisheries Market Organisation Act and the Criminal Records Database Act (310 SE), initiated by the Government, affect the persons engaged in commercial fishing in inland water bodies who have committed serious infringements of fishing requirements and apply for support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Under the current Act, applications for EMFF support by persons who commit serious infringements of certain fishing requirements are inadmissible only in the case of persons engaged in commercial fishing on sea. The Act creates a situation where the applications for EMFF support by persons having committed similar serious infringements of fishing requirements either on sea or in inland water bodies are inadmissible for the duration of at least 12 months.
Certain provisions of the Fisheries Market Organisation Act are also amended. The need to amend them has emerged from the current experience of implementation of EMFF and this will enable to reduce administrative burden upon implementation of EMFF.
At the same time, the Act is amended by adding provisions that enable, upon grant of state aid to fisheries, de minimis aid to fisheries and other aid to fisheries, to approve conforming applications within the limits of the budget funds earmarked for granting this category of aid in a situation where the amounts applied for in the applications exceed the funds earmarked for that.
94 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.
The Riigikogu passed another Act
The Act on Amendments to the Maritime Safety Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (284 SE), initiated by the Government, amends several maritime regulations and brings the Act into conformity with the requirements of European Union legislation and international conventions.
The Act ensures the conformity of the Maritime Safety Act and the Acts relating to it to the European Union and international maritime law. The coherence, understandability and legal clarity of Acts is also ensured. The main impacts arising from the amendments concern the relevant state authorities.
During the debate, Annely Akkermann (Reform Party) took the floor.
91 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.
Four Bills passed the first reading
The Bill on Amendments to the Financial Supervision Authority of Act (380 SE), initiated by the Finance Committee.
The Bill will extend the bases for publishing information relating to state financial supervision and will include in the Financial Supervision Authority Act a legal basis for publishing warning notices. The Bill will enable the Financial Supervision Authority to publish warning notices and to warn the public against activities that are not in conformity with requirements and against relevant suspicions in the field of financial supervision.
The explanatory memorandum notes that the notices will enable to provide the Estonian public early information on risks relating to the financial sector and to inform consumers of grounded threats in the field of financial supervision. Considering the ever-growing financial services market and the entry into market of new kinds of services, there is an ever-growing likelihood that financial services and products are “advertised” to the public the provision or offering of which may require authorisation from the Financial Supervision Authority while the person offering the relevant service or product does not have it. In such cases, it is very important that the Financial Supervision Authority also have the possibility to inform or warn the public of this immediately.
The Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (348 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction and Member of the Riigikogu Raimond Kaljulaid.
The Bill will raise the age-limit for sexual self-determination to 16 years in order to protect minors against abuse. At present, the age limit is 14 years in Estonia, which means that sexual relationships of young people of 14 years of age and over with adults are not in any way regulated by Estonian laws.
The explanatory memorandum notes that, at the same time, the existence of a legal age-limit for starting sexual life or the establishment of such an age-limit by the state does not concern consensual sexual relationships between teenagers but sexual abuse of teenagers by adults.
During the debate, Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski (Centre Party), Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party) and Henn Põlluaas (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor.
The Bill on Amendments to the Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (309 SE), initiated by the Government. The Bill will impose restrictions to protect agricultural areas with higher than average site class that local authorities will have to take into account when preparing comprehensive and detailed spatial plans in order to ensure the preservation of their soils and the possibility to ensure the supply of the country with food also in a longer-term perspective.
The legal regulation concerning valuable agricultural land will be established in order to achieve legal protection of agricultural land with a high cultivation value and its soils; agricultural use of valuable agricultural land to the largest extent possible and thereby security upon the production of food; a restriction on the building of construction works and afforestation on valuable agricultural land and a restriction on changing the intended purpose and the purpose of use of cadastral units intended to be used as profit-yielding land; a national overview on valuable agricultural areas; and the reflecting of parcels of agricultural land, including parcels of valuable agricultural land, in the register of parcels of agricultural land and on the relevant map.
The explanatory memorandum notes that, through the implementation of the mechanisms to protect valuable agricultural land, in a longer-term perspective, agricultural land use and the sustainability of rural life and through it the security of supply of food is expected to be uniformly ensured on the whole territory of the country.
According to the Bill, local authorities will set the conditions for the protection and use of valuable agricultural land by comprehensive plans. It is not planned to establish measures of state supervision of agricultural use of agricultural land. The great majority of the data on valuable agricultural land has been entered into the register of agricultural support and agricultural parcels (ARIB register) of the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board (ARIB) that covers agricultural areas connected with the single area payment and the area-based supports paid under the Estonian Rural Development Plan 2014–2020. Supervision and control over the implementation of the supports is exercised on the bases of and pursuant to the procedure provided for in Chapter 11 of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy Implementation Act, which as a general rule gives the conviction that valuable agricultural land is in agricultural use.
The Bill on the Prevention of Unfair Trading Practices in the Agricultural and Food Supply Chain (377 SE), initiated by the Government, will provide as unfair trading practices transactions and activities that are connected with payment periods, supplies and conditions governing sales and that are prohibited in relations between buyers and suppliers in the agricultural and food supply chain.
Sixteen unfair trading practices have been listed, nine of which are prohibited in any case and always. For example, the buyer must not unilaterally change the terms of a supply agreement, cancel orders at such short notice that a supplier cannot reasonably be expected to find an alternative means of commercialising or using the products, threaten to carry out acts of commercial retaliation against the supplier, etc.
The remaining seven unfair trading practices are prohibited unless they have been previously agreed in clear and unambiguous terms. For example, where the bearing of the cost of discounts on agricultural and food products has not been agreed in writing in the supply agreement, a request from the buyer that such costs be borne is considered as an unfair trading practice. Such transactions do not give rise to any legal consequences and are void from their inception.
The Competition Authority will exercise supervision over trading practices, and a structural unit with six posts will be established therefor. The Competition Authority will also have to publish a relevant report and, by 15 March every year, submit to the European Commission an overview on the application of the requirements of the Act and on the ensurance of compliance therewith.
Liability will also be provided for for infringement of the prohibition on unfair trading practices. A punishment of up to 300 fine units or detention will be provided for natural persons and a fine of up to 400,000 euro for legal persons.
The aim of the Bill is to protect suppliers of agricultural and food products against unfair trading practices by buyers. The Bill will transpose the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on unfair trading practices in business-to-business relationships in the agricultural and food supply chain.
Ivari Padar (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.
The Riigikogu did not pass a Resolution
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making a Proposal to the Government of the Republic for Compensation of Days of Sick Leave from the First Day of Sick Leave” (346 OE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction.
The draft Resolution made a proposal to the Government to pay to people infected with COVID-19 and their close contacts a sickness benefit of 100 per cent of their previous remuneration from the first day of their sick leave until their capacity for work is restored or until the day of the end of their quarantine. According to the draft Resolution, a one-off benefit in the amount of 500 euro should be paid to people who are not entitled to sickness benefit or whose sickness benefit is less than 500 euro.
Indrek Saar (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.
The proposal of the Social Affairs Committee as the lead committee was to hold a final vote on the draft Resolution. A majority vote of the members of the Riigikogu was needed for the Resolution to be passed. 31 member of the Riigikogu voted for the adoption of the Resolution and there was one abstention.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)