The Bill on the coming year’s state budget passed the second reading in the Riigikogu. At today’s sitting, 58 motions to amend that had been submitted by the factions, members of the Riigikogu and the Finance Committee were reviewed. The deadline for submission of motions to amend is 5.15 p.m. on 29 November.
The Chairman of the Finance Committee Mihhail Stalnuhhin explained that the committee had received 60 motions to amend in total. The Free Party Faction had submitted 26 motions, the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction 16 and the Reform Party Faction ten motions. Four members of the Riigikogu had also submitted their motions. During the proceedings, the Free Party Faction withdrew three motions to amend. Thus 57 motions to amend had been submitted in total. Stalnuhhin said that these motions to amend had found no support after having been reviewed because the solutions offered for covering the proposals would have changed the proportions pursued in the budget and the achievement of the objectives set. Redistribution of funds at the expense of building rented housing, free public transport and the investments of Eesti Energia was not supported in principle by the Committee. The Finance Committee submitted a motion to amend that consolidated and accepted motions on redistribution of funds, submitted in cooperation with ministries.
During the debate, Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party), Maris Lauri (Reform Party), Külliki Kübarsepp (Estonian Free Party), Kersti Sarapuu (Centre Party), Krista Aru (Estonian Free Party), Martin Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Aivar Sõerd (Reform Party), Laine Randjärv (Reform Party), Olga Ivanova, Toomas Kivimägi (Reform Party), Arto Aas (Reform Party), Urmas Kruuse (Reform Party), Peeter Ernits, Jüri Adams (Estonian Free Party), Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party), Margus Tsahkna, Lauri Luik (Reform Party), Tiina Kangro, Mati Raidma (Reform Party), Sven Sester (Isamaa) and Andres Herkel (Estonian Free Party) took the floor.
The members of the Riigikogu who took the floor analysed different aspects of the state budget and pointed out a number of critical assessments. Among other things, the opaqueness of the budget was criticised. In their remarks, they also referred to the European Commission’s position according to which the coming year’s state budget was unbalanced and in a deficit by 0.7 per cent.
The Riigikogu voted on the motions to amend the Bill which found no support. In the course of the proceedings, the motion submitted by the Finance Committee was accepted.
The Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction and the Estonian Reform Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill on next year’s state budget. The result of voting: 47 members of the Riigikogu in favour, 51 against. The motion was not supported. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
According to the State Budget for 2019 Bill (700 SE), initiated by the Government, the expenditure and investments volume of the state budget totals 11.31 billion euro and the revenue volume 11.06 billion.
The Riigikogu passed eight Acts
The Act on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Other Acts (662 SE), initiated by the Government, makes regulations more flexible and gives ministers the possibility to delegate the performance of acts and the decision-making to officials on behalf of the authority. According to the Government of the Republic Act, the Planning Act and the Acts concerning the ownership reform, as a general rule, at present, the minister responsible for the field conducts administrative proceedings and exercises administrative supervision.
The Act gives a minister the right to authorise a cooperation body of a local government to carry out an administrative duty of the state related to implementation of a national support programme. Under the current legislation, state authorities or, under the authorisation of a minister, state foundations have the right to perform such administrative duties. However, by their essence, several regional support programmes are better implemented at the local government level (for example, the local self-initiative programme and the sparsely populated areas programme).
With the amendment to the Land Reform Act, the minister responsible for the field is given the right to authorise an authority of the area of government the Ministry of the Interior (the Police and Border Guard Board or the Internal Security Service) to provide a position of the Ministry of the Interior for the privatisation of border land areas.
The requirement of higher education in law for the post of the State Secretary was retained.
Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party) took the floor during the debate.
51 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act, 40 were against, and there were two abstentions.
The Act on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Other Acts (651 SE), initiated by the Government, merges the Consumer Protection Board and the Technical Regulatory Authority as of 1 January 2019. The merger is intended to enhance state supervision and to increase the number of services offered.
The merger of the authorities proceeds from a more general principle of the state reform which is reduction of duplication in state offices, reduction of the number of administrative agencies and improvement of the quality and availability of public services. In preparation for the merging of the divisions of the area of government of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, 55 Acts are amended.
In addition, the Government of the Republic Act and the Civil Service Act were amended by adding provisions which eliminate the deficiencies in Estonian law due to insufficient transposition of the relevant directives on the electricity market and natural gas, in regard to which the European Commission has started infringement proceedings against Estonia. An additional restriction on the term of office of the Director General of the Estonian Competition Authority was included into the Civil Service Act. In the future it will be possible to extend the five-year term of office only once. An exclusion under which the minister has no right of supervisory control of the Competition Authority with regard to functions arising from the Electricity Market Act and the Natural Gas Act was included into the Government of the Republic Act.
84 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act, five were against, and there was one abstention.
The Act on Amendments to the Taxation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (675 SE), initiated by the Government, makes tax proceedings smoother and resolves problems that have arisen in practice.
According to current law and court practice, tax arrears can be collected only from a member of the management board of a company. In the future, it will be possible to collect them from the actual manager who has caused the tax arrears to the undertaking intentionally, acting behind the cover of a member of the management board entered in the commercial register.
As the current regulation may cause confusion and unnecessary disputes in defining the type of tax inspection, the concepts of tax audit and examination of individual cases are eliminated by merging them into a single type of tax inspection. This involves no major fundamental changes.
Besides data on tax arrears, information on other outstanding obligations of persons that have become due and that the Board is administering will be disclosed on the website of the Tax and Customs Board in the future. They are for example penalty payments, fines and tax liabilities of third parties imposed by a tax authority. At present, tax arrears in the amount of 10 euro are disclosed; in the future, tax arrears together with possible accessory obligations starting from 100 euro will be disclosed.
To make the work of the tax authority more efficient and in the interests of faster service of taxable persons, the possibility for the tax authority to issue certain administrative acts automatically is provided for in the Act. The tax authority will perform inspection and will have the possibility to intervene as necessary. Official titles of employees, and the place of performance and extent of work will be entered into the employment register besides other data. The data are necessary for Statistics Estonia for collecting official statistics.
A provision was included in the Heavy Goods Vehicles Tax Act under which the data submitted to the Road Administration are also intended for the Tax and Customs Board for the exercise of supervision, and the Tax and Customs Board was provided the right to request that the owner or possessor of a heavy goods vehicle correct the data submitted to the Road Administration if the owner or possessor has submitted false data to the traffic register and has paid less heavy goods vehicle tax than is due. According to the Act, the Tax and Customs Board no longer has to notify the Estonian Health Insurance Fund of the registration of the spouse of a self-employed person, because databases exchange data automatically.
77 members of the Riigikogu supported the passage of the Act, eight were against, and there were three abstentions.
The Prevention of Unfair Competition and Protection of Trade Secrets Act (678 SE), initiated by the Government.
Unfair competition is unfair competition within the meaning of Chapter 7 of the current Competition Act. The Act separates the regulation of unfair competition from the Competition Act where it does not fit in terms of system, corrects the term of “unfair competition” so that it would be consistent with its English equivalent, and transposes into Estonian law the relevant EU directive on the protection of trade secrets.
The Act does not amend the substance of the current regulation of unfair competition, except in regard to the directive on the protection of unfair competition. Provisions drafted on the basis thereof define trade secret and unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure thereof. The Act establishes additional legal remedies for the protection of trade secrets, and the right to require compensation of non-patrimonial damage and loss of profit also in the case of claims arising from tort law.
In addition, the Act restores the penal liability for disclosure of confidential information which becomes known in legal proceedings, and extends the regulation of securing actions against a security in civil proceedings in such a manner that, upon securing an action, in justified cases, the plaintiff must pay security also to the extent of the potential damage to third persons, besides the defendant.
The Act ensures legal clarity in restricting the access to court sessions (court session in camera) or in requiring to maintain the confidentiality of facts which become known in the course of the proceedings even if the court session has not been declared closed but maintaining confidentiality is clearly necessary. Such decisions of the court must be formalised by reasoned rulings (i.e. not by recorded rulings), which are subject to contestation by way of proceedings for adjudication of appeals against court rulings. In connection with the latter, it is necessary to repeal clause 385 1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure which has so far precluded contestation of rulings on the restriction of public access to a court session. Also, subsection 408 (5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure must provide that both rulings specified in § 12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (both subsection (2) and subsection (41)) enter into force as of the making of the ruling, with a view to ensuring maintenance of confidentiality of the relevant data also during the term for filing an appeal against a ruling (15 days) and while a potential appeal against a ruling is being heard. In such a case, potential filing of an appeal against a ruling does not hinder the further proceedings in the criminal matter.
Andres Herkel (Estonian Free Party) took the floor during the debate.
74 members of the Riigikogu supported the passage of the Act, 13 were against, and there were two abstentions.
The Act on Amendments to the General Part of the Civil Code Act and the Law of Obligations Act, the General Part of the Civil Code Act and the Private International Law Act Implementation Act (627 SE), initiated by the Government, amends the limitation period for certain civil law claims recognised by a court decision or another enforcement instrument. At present, all civil law claims recognised by an enforcement instrument expire within a term of ten years.
The Act provides that the limitation period for claims arising from unlawfully caused damage and claims ordered on the basis of a civil action filed within the framework of criminal proceedings extends from ten years to twenty years. For example, if a compensation for causing bodily injury is imposed to the benefit of the victim by a court judgment, then in the future the limitation period for such a claim will be twenty years instead of ten years. The aim of the amendment is to improve the legal position of obligee.
In the case of other civil law claims, for example, a claim for payment of purchase price arising from a contract of sale or a claim arising from a loan agreement, the limitation period remains at ten years.
86 members of the Riigikogu supported the passage of the Act, six were against, and there were two abstentions.
The Act on Amendments to the Income Tax Act (648 SE), initiated by the Rural Affairs Committee, provides for exemption from the fringe benefit tax the expenses incurred by an employer in covering the price of a public transport ticket in the cases the employee uses public transport to commute between their place of residence and place of work. The exemption does not apply to taxi services. The amendment allows ensuring more favourable conditions to employees, and indirectly supports the continuation of commercial regular services and the functioning of the existing line network.
According to the Act, the support for constructing water supply and sewerage pipelines and installing accumulation tanks on registered immovables, paid to natural persons from European Union structural funds, is no longer subject to income tax. The provision is implemented retroactively from 1 June 2018.
86 members of the Riigikogu supported the passage of the Act.
The Act on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and Other Acts (699 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes a favourable excise duty rate for natural gas, which is 11.30 euro per 1000 m3, for undertakings with intensive gas consumption. The favourable rate does not extend to undertakings who engage in electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply as a principal or ancillary activity.
The Act cancels the rise of the excise duty rates for alcohol planned for 2019 and 2020. This will reduce additional pressure on the business in border areas, and the resulting under-accrual of excise revenue.
The Act introduced several technical amendments and specified the procedure for preparing documents upon refuelling of aircraft of the armed forces.
63 members of the Riigikogu supported the passage of the Act, ten were against, and there were four abstentions.
The Act on the Acceptance of the 2009 and 2013 Amendments to the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (711 SE), initiated by the Government, accepts the amendments to the Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter.
These amendments included in the Protocol the rules for carrying out export of carbon dioxide streams for dumping and other geoengineering works (at the moment, only ocean fertilization). The amendments to the Protocol have a substantive impact globally, but they have little impact on Estonia.
67 members of the Riigikogu supported the passage of the Act.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of seven other Bills
The Bill on Amendments to the Environmental Charges Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (660 SE), initiated by the Government.
The amendment will reorganise the movement of the proceeds from environmental charges. In the future, part of the funds received from environmental charges into the state budget will be allocated to the Ministry of the Environment in the amount determined by the state budget for the relevant year. At present, environmental charges accrue to the state budget, and from there to the foundation Environmental Investment Centre to a fixed extent.
The amendment is necessary because the provision for the funding volume at the charge rates that have been in force since 2009 has become unjustified and in fact limiting by now. The funding volume cannot be flexibly planned or increased as necessary for larger-scale projects.
According to an amendment, the amounts allocated for specific purposes for environmental protection would no longer depend on the proceeds from environmental charges or the charge rates, but the use of these funds would be shaped on the basis of the priorities set during the state budget strategy, the environmental protection need and the long-term strategic view.
The amendment will increase the share of the charge received from environmental charges by local authorities which concerns the charge for oil shale extraction, the thermal treatment of oil shale, and the disposal oil shale fly ash and oil shale bottom ash.
The Bill will amend the section on supporting the environmental protection sector so that, to implement the environmental programme, the Ministry of the Environment will allocate an amount corresponding to at least the monetary volume of proceeds received from the water abstraction charge into the state budget in the previous year.
The amendment would also put an end to the situation where the Ministry of the Environment and the authorities in its area of administration apply for funds to fund their operating expenditure, for example, monitoring, from the Environmental Investment Centre. In the future, principal activities will be funded directly from the budget of the Ministry of the Environment. This will increase the transparency of the funding of the area of administration, and workload will diminish. The Bill will also amend the Atmospheric Air Protection Act, the Administrative Co-operation Act and the Environmental Monitoring Act.
The Bill on Amendments to the Assistant Police Officer Act (631 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Jaak Madison, Kalle Laanet, Jaanus Karilaid, Toomas Vitsut, Raivo Aeg, Uno Kaskpeit, Valdo Randpere, Külliki Kübarsepp, Margus Tsahkna and Liisa Oviir, provides for creating more flexible possibilities to involve assistant police officers in police work.
The Bill will harmonise the rights of assistant police officers with those of police officers which will provide better opportunities to involve volunteers who have been trained for that and are motivated and competent.
The Bill will grant assistant police officers the right to use indicator devices to establish the presence of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in a person’s system, in addition to checking of intoxication by alcohol. If a positive reading is obtained, the person will have to be handed over to the police for further procedural acts to be performed.
In addition to the right to use a firearm, assistant police officers will also have the right to use an electroshock weapon, or Taser. For that, assistant police officers will have to undergo the relevant training and instruction.
The Bill also provides that, in the future, assistant police officers will also be able to wear police uniform, but they will have to be clearly distinguishable from the police to citizens.
The Personal Data Protection Bill (679 SE), initiated by the Government.
Starting from 25 May 2018, the relevant directly applicable EU Regulation on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data began to regulate the personal data protection law. This also necessitates a review of the national regulation that is currently in force.
So far, the Personal Data Protection Act has regulated the issues of personal data protection as the general Act. It transposed an earlier EU directive which was repealed however as of 25 May 2018. Although the General Regulation is a directly applicable EU legal act, in certain issues the Member States have been given discretionary power to specify, establish and preserve the issues relating to personal data processing provided for in the general Regulation.
Estonia’s new Personal Data Protection Act will create a general framework for personal data processing where we have the discretion arising from the EU General Regulation. The new Personal Data Protection Act will also transpose the EU directive on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, and repealing the Council Framework Decision on the law-enforcement authorities directive.
The Personal Data Protection Act Implementation Bill (650 SE), initiated by the Government.
As of 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation is in force in the European Union, and relevant amendments will have to be introduced into the Estonian Acts to implement it. The Bill will amend 130 Acts.
The Bill will update the regulations concerning databases – the purposes of processing of personal data and the compositions of data will be amended, and the period of preservation of data will also be limited. The establishment of the statutes of databases has been transferred from the Government level to the competence of ministers where possible.
At the same time, the bases for personal data processing in law-enforcement authorities and security authorities and the Defence Forces and for restricting the rights of data subjects will be harmonised with the directive concerning law-enforcement authorities. In addition, the performance of background checks on visitors and service providers on the objects guarded by the Police and Border Guard Board (e.g. Kadriorg Palace, Toompea Castle, Stenbock House, the common building for ministries, etc.) will also be regulated. In the course of such checks, with the written consent of the person, the Police and Border Guard Board will have the right to process his or her personal data for example concerning place of residence, punishments and crossings of the external border. An employee of the Police and Border Guard Board may also request additional data and talk to an employer or a representative of an educational institution if necessary.
The Constitutional Committee introduced amendments according to which the numbers of administrative matters will remain public, initials and not pseudonyms will be used in court decisions also in the future, and the names of the accused will be public in criminal proceedings also in the future.
The restriction on access to data of dead persons was changed. While the initial Bill provided for a 30-year restriction, under a motion to amend, the data of a dead person can be processed for ten years after his or her death.
The committee also introduced other amendments to the Bill. Under an amendment, photographing and filming in public places will have to be notified so that it would be understandable and it would be possible for people to prevent recordings being made of them.
When the Act enters into force, statutes of 81 national databases will have to be updated. The implementation of the updated personal data regulations will involve costs for the state. According to estimation, in the areas of administration of four ministries, databases need additional IT-developments to the extent of a total of 860 000 euro in connection with the functionalities of log processing system, data deletion and pseudonymisation, as well as bringing server parks into conformity with the requirements.
The Bill on Amendments to the Health Services Organisation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (698 SE), initiated by the Government, provides that the obligation to pay a fee for emergency care, and for health services related to the protection of public health as specified in a Regulation of the Minister of Health and Labour, provided to persons not covered by health insurance will be transferred to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.
The Bill will provide that the obligation to pay for health services will be transferred to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund which arises from the health care funding decisions made in 2017 and the legislative amendments adopted in the Riigikogu in December 2017. The transfer has already been taken into account in the calculation of the state budget allocation to be received in the budget of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.
The changing of the financing procedure will also require amendment of the Procurement, Handling and Transplantation of Cells, Tissues and Organs Act, the Mental Health Act and the Establishment of Cause of Death Act in regard to the health services that are also compensated to uninsured persons from the state budget under the contract between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund under the current procedure.
Under the Bill on Amendments to the Health Services Organisation Act and the Health Insurance Act (626 SE), initiated by the Government, all doctors, dental practitioners, nurses and midwives from third countries will have to complete a work practice and pass a theory examination in Estonian before they will be authorised to work in Estonia.
The Bill will provide for the procedure for better checking the qualification requirements of doctors, dental practitioners, nurses and midwives if a person has acquired his or her qualifications outside the member states of the European Economic Area or Switzerland. The new procedure will be more transparent and provide for more legal clarity, and enhance supervision.
According to the Bill, the Health Board, the University of Tartu, and Tartu or Tallinn Health Care College will participate in the assessment of the qualification. The institutions of higher education will also organise the referral to work practice and the theory examination in Estonian. It was noted that, every year, about 40 persons from third countries submitted an application for commencement of employment as a doctor in Estonia, and one to two persons for commencement of employment as a nurse.
Another significant amendment concerns doctor-residents. According to the Bill, uninterrupted health insurance cover will be ensured to all doctor-residents undergoing work practice, regardless of the duration of their contract of employment. This will concern about 60 family medicine doctor-residents who undergo one-month cycles of practical training of residency in various residency teaching hospitals.
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act and the Administrative Co-operation Act (657 SE), initiated by the Social Affairs Committee, is to make access to special welfare services supporting the subsistence and quality of life of the persons with special psychological needs quicker and clearer for both the users and the organisers of the services. Also, a uniform system of organisation for referral to services and provision of services will be created. The Bill is intended to ensure that adults with a mental disorder in need of assistance receive the assistance corresponding to their actual need for support, in order to prevent a worsening of the person’s subsistence and quality of life. The aim of the Bill is to ensure provision of a needs-based and flexible special welfare service. For that, the assessment of the need for a special welfare service and the counselling of persons will be brought to the Social Insurance Board.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of 13 drafts
The Bill on Amendments to the Credit Institutions Act and Other Acts (750 SE), initiated by the Government, will establish the ranking of unsecured claims resulting from debt instruments issued by credit institutions (banks) in the proceedings for the insolvency and resolution of banks.
The Bill will update the requirements for the capital, management and merger for banks and investment firms, and for insurance undertakings, and the bases for the formation of automatic motor insurance. In addition, the bases for the resolution of banks and credit institutions will be amended, and the cooperation of the Guarantee Fund with the guarantee schemes of other European Union Member States, and EU institutions will be specified.
While at present banks are allowed to merge only with banks, in the future, it will be possible for banks to merge with other companies in certain cases. EU law does not require such an amendment, but considering that the regulation of credit institutions has been harmonised to a significant extent in the EU, when choosing a jurisdiction for a credit institution, the specification which is currently in force may give a significant advantage to another EU Member State where no such restrictions are in force.
The Bill will increase financial stability, and ensure the credibility and transparency of the financial sector and the sustainable functioning of the market.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Replacement of the Capital Subscribed by the United Kingdom in the European Investment Bank” (751 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for the replacement of the capital subscribed by the United Kingdom in the European Investment Bank.
The explanatory memorandum notes that, in connection with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, the United Kingdom’s share in the capital of the European Investment Bank will have to be replaced with shares of the remaining member states. Failure to do that would reduce the ability of the bank to borrow, and would also jeopardise the bank’s AAA credit rating which allows borrowing at a lower interest rate.
With its Resolution, the Riigikogu will authorise the Minister of Finance to vote in favour of the new capital distribution in the Board of Directors of the European Investment Bank. Under the new capital distribution, the member states will proportionally replace the United Kingdom’s share in the bank’s capital. The capital subscribed by Estonia will increase from 173 020 000 euro to 206 248 240 euro. The capital paid in by Estonia will increase by 2 963 711 euro to a total of 18 395 811 euro. No direct financial obligation will be involved because the contribution grows at the expense of the reserves created from the profit of the European Investment Bank gained in earlier years. The decision needs to be approved by the Riigikogu, because the proprietary obligation of the Estonian state will increase.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in Another International Military Operation Led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or its Member State, the European Union or the UN upon the First Contribution thereto” (744 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for the use of up to 50 servicemen of the Defence Forces, as necessary, in a military operation organised for the purpose of maintaining or restoring peace and security on the basis of the provisions of Chapters VI and VII of the Charter of the United Nations, led by NATO or its member state, the EU or the UN, or in any other military operation in compliance with generally recognised principles and provisions of international law, upon the first contribution thereto. Such a mandate is given due to the need to respond as flexibly as possible to a situation that may escalate quickly, for example if Estonia’s security policy interest requires rapid deployment of the Defence Forces units to operations that do not fall under other exemptions allowing rapid response (e.g. participation in the NATO response force) provided for in the National Defence Act. In 2018, Estonia also contributed with up to 50 servicemen.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Mission in Iraq” (748 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for participation in the NATO mission NMI (NATO Mission Iraq) in Iraq with up to five servicemen.
The new non-combat training and capability building mission was established at the NATO Summit in Brussels on 11-12 July this year. It is based on the request of the Iraqi Government to provide additional support to the Government’s efforts to stabilise the country and to fight terrorism.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the European Union Military Mission EUNAVFOR Med/Sophia” (745 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for contributing to operation EUNAVFOR Med/Sophia with up to six servicemen. The task of EUNAVFOR Med/Sophia is to restrict the freedom of movement of the human traffickers operating at the Libyan coast and to identify, capture and dispose of vessels and other assets used, or suspected of being used, by migrant smugglers or traffickers. Estonia started participating in the operation in August 2015 and will also continue participating next year.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Post-Conflict Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria” (739 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for participation in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Middle East with up to six servicemen also in 2019. The activities are carried out in the Middle East, more specifically in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. The Estonian military observers have been participating in the membership of the mission since 1997. As of 2014, Estonia’s contribution to the mission was increased to up to six servicemen with a Resolution of the Riigikogu.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Composition of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Response Force” (738 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for participation in the composition of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Response Force (NRF) with up to 52 servicemen. Earlier, Estonia has contributed to the NRF in the composition of NATO Standing Naval Forces (SNF) with a navy staff and support vessel and mine countermeasure vessels, explosive ordnance disposal units and military police units, special forces, a movement coordination unit, staff officers, and a joint infantry battalion of NRF-14 together with other Baltic countries.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the International Military Operation “Inherent Resolve”” (747 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for continuing participation in the international military operation “Inherent Resolve” with up to ten servicemen. The US-led international military operation “Inherent Resolve” against ISIL was launched on 15 June 2014. The aim of the operation is direct and supporting military action against ISIL, in Iraq as well as in the region more widely. Estonia began its participation in the operation “Inherent Resolve” in August 2016.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Training and Advisory Mission in Afghanistan” (743 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for continuing participation in the NATO-led training and advisory mission in Afghanistan with up to 46 servicemen. Estonia has participated in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation in Afghanistan for eleven years (2003−2014) and is planning to continue meeting its Alliance commitments in the NATO-led training and advisory mission in the current extent.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the European Union Training Mission and the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Mali” (746 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for continuing participation in the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) with up to ten servicemen, and in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with up to ten servicemen. Estonia’s contribution to the EUTM Mali mission is important because it is one of the priorities of the Estonian state to participate in the implementation of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy and to develop cooperation with strategic allies. The Mali mission has become one of the most important military operations of the EU. The participation of Estonian servicemen in UN operations helps strengthen Estonia’s contribution to UN activities in securing peace.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Composition of the United Kingdom’s Joint Expeditionary Force” (740 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for participation in the composition of the United Kingdom’s Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) with up to 24 servicemen. The JEF is a coalition of the willing, initiated, owned and led by the United Kingdom, with membership of other countries. For Estonia, joining the JEF was a natural continuation to the very good, close and long-standing bilateral political and military ties with the United Kingdom.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in France’s Military Operation Barkhane in Mali” (741 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for participation in France’s military operation “Barkhane” in Mali with up to 50 servicemen. It is an Estonia’s defence policy interest to support a stable security environment globally and solidary contribution of the European countries in the fight against the threats affecting Europe, in their place of origin where possible. As of August 2018, Estonia participates in the operation with a total of up to 50 servicemen.
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon” (742 OE), submitted by the Government, provides for participation in the United Nations (UN) mission UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) with up to three servicemen. Estonia participated in UNIFIL in 1996–1997, when it contributed with a peacekeeping company (135 servicemen). Starting from spring 2015 to autumn 2018, Estonia contributed with an infantry platoon and a support element in the composition of the Irish-Finnish joint battalion in UNIFIL in Lebanon. The proposal is to continue participation in the mission with up to three servicemen, instead of the current 50 servicemen.
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Income Tax Act (705 SE), initiated by the Government, was removed from the agenda for the sitting.
The sitting ended at 11.41 p.m.
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