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At today’s sitting, the Bill intended to expand the opportunities to learn Estonian for persons who wish to acquire Estonian citizenship passed the first reading in the Riigikogu.

Under the Bill on Amendments to the Citizenship Act (629 SE), initiated by the Government, it is intended to provide language training to aliens who reside here and wish to apply for Estonian citizenship. The language training will be free for the aliens, and the government is ready to pay compensation to them for the time they are on an unpaid study leave for language training by agreement with their employers.

In the future, the state will provide the possibility of entering into a language training contract for people who have lawfully resided in Estonia for at least five years, and who meet the basic requirements for applying for citizenship and who wish to apply for Estonian citizenship. According to the contract, people who enter into the contract will be provided a one-off free Estonian language training course from zero level to the level of independent language user B1.

The contract will be deemed to be fulfilled when the person submits an application for acquisition of citizenship to the Police and Border Guard Board. For participation in the Estonian language courses, persons who enter into the contract will be paid a language training allowance during the days of study leave on the basis of the average salary for 20 calendar days for the times they participate in the language training courses. The Estonian Academy of Security Services will organise the language training.

It is planned to start with the conclusion of language training contracts as of next January. According to the Bill, a total of 3.7 million euro will be allocated for language training expenses for the next three years.

Proficiency in the Estonian language at B1 level is required for obtaining Estonian citizenship. An alien who has resided in Estonia for at least eight years can apply for citizenship.

During the debate, Hanno Pevkur from the Estonian Reform Party Faction and Krista Aru from the Estonian Free Party took the floor and presented their positions.

Two other drafts passed the first reading:

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.

The Bill on Amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act and the Private Schools Act (611 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction, will create the possibility for central evaluation of heads of school in terms of their work and development.

The explanatory memorandum notes that since the Riigikogu has set out in an Act the functions of the head of school, and the minister responsible for the field has established the qualification requirements, then not only the owner of the school but also the minister responsible for the field must make sure that the functions are performed effectively, and the head of school employed in the post is competent in the post. An evaluation committee will be formed for the evaluation, involving at least a representative of school heads, a representative of the Ministry of Education and Research, and a representative of owners of schools. All heads of basic schools and upper secondary schools will be evaluated for at least once every five years. The compliance of the head of school with the qualification requirements, including if he or she meets the requirement of proficiency in the official language, and his or her management competences, will be evaluated. In this document, competence means the activity of the head of school in the fulfilment of the aims of his or her organisation and the education policy.

During the debate, Toomas Jürgenstein from the Social Democratic Party Faction, Krista Aru from the Estonian Free Party Faction, Raivo Põldaru from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction and Märt Sults from the Estonian Centre Party Faction took the floor and presented their positions.

Due to the end of the working hours of the plenary, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Hunting Act and the Administrative Co-operation Act (633 SE), initiated by the Environmental Committee, was postponed to the agenda for Wednesday’s plenary sitting.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/en/201805151000.

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
Marie Kukk
631 6456; 58 213 309
marie.kukk@riigikogu.ee
Questions: press@riigikogu.ee

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