The Riigikogu passed an Act and a Resolution:
The Riigikogu passed with 78 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Performing Arts Institutions Act and the National Opera Act (709 SE), initiated by the Government, which amends the regulations concerning the conclusion of employment contracts with persons engaged in creative activities. The Act provides that, in the future, a contract without a fixed term will have to be concluded with a person engaged in creative activities who has been in a theatre for more than ten years. A fixed-term employment contract with a person engaged in creative activities may be concluded for up to five years if this is justified by the specific nature of his or her creative work. The Act eliminates the specification according to which, upon successive conclusion or extension of the fixed-term employment contracts concluded with a person engaged in creative activities, the employment relationship does not become an employment relationship without a fixed term. This means that theatres are given the right to conclude up to five fixed-term contracts with a new person engaged in creative activities. At the same time, the total duration of the fixed-term contracts concluded with one person may not exceed ten years. An exception will be made with regard to the artistic director of a performing arts institution whose employment relationship will not become an employment relationship without a fixed term in the event of successive conclusion or extension of the employment contract. The target group of the Act includes state performing arts institutions, municipal performing arts institutions, and performing arts institutions founded by the state or with the participation of the state, a total of nearly 1000 persons engaged in creative activities.
The Riigikogu approved with 45 votes in favour (13 against) the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Grant of Authorisation for the Establishment of the European Stability Mechanism Direct Bank Recapitalisation Instrument” (734 OE), submitted by the Government, which gives the representatives of Estonia the authority to vote on the issues necessary for the establishment of the ESM Direct Bank Recapitalisation Instrument. All eurozone members are ESM members. The Resolution will involve no direct costs or benefits for the Estonian state. The creation of the new instrument will not change Estonia’s participation or obligations arising therefrom in the ESM.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of nine Bills:
The Bill on Amendments to the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (728 SE), initiated by the Government, amends the Act by adding a new type of study allowance and increases the flexibility of the requirements for application for the current needs-based study allowance. The new needs-based study allowances system is based on the economic needs of students and concerns only the students with a family whose economic situation does not allow to ensure access to higher education and sufficient support to participate in higher education studies to them. It has been stressed since the needs-based study allowance was designed that the aim of the allowance is to support and facilitate acquisition of higher education by young people from families with permanently lower incomes.
The Bill on Amendments to the Social Tax Act and the Health Insurance Act (729 SE), initiated by the Government, will resolve some of the problems affecting the effectiveness of Doctoral study and ensure the social insurance for doctoral students which is lacking at present. With the amendment to the Social Tax Act, an additional type of individually registered social tax will be added to the tax system. According to the amendment, the state will begin to pay social tax for persons who receive Doctoral allowance under the conditions provided for in the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act. Social tax will not be paid for periods when the doctoral student does not receive the allowance. According to the amendments, doctoral students will be guaranteed that the amounts paid as social tax will be shown in the state pension insurance register and they will be taken into account in calculation of pension. When the Bill enters into force, Doctoral allowance and the amounts of social tax paid thereon will also be included in the calculation of parental benefit. The Health Insurance Act is specified based on the amendments to the Social Tax Act in order to avoid a situation where the state guarantees health insurance cover for doctoral students who receive Doctoral allowance by paying social tax on the allowance as well as through the health insurance budget.
The Bill on Amendments to the State Funeral Benefits Act (726 SE), initiated by the Government, prescribes support for economically unprivileged persons by restoration of payment of the state funeral benefit. However, the payment will not be restored for everybody, but only for those who belong to the family who received subsistence benefit within the meaning of the Social Welfare Act. Thus funeral benefit will be paid only to those who presumably are unable to, or for whom, owing to their economic situation, it is difficult to bear the funeral expenses. Deprivation will be established on the basis of the receiving of subsistence benefit.
The Bill on Amendments to the State Family Benefits Act (727 SE), initiated by the Government, raises the foster care allowance to 240 euro per month. Under the current State Family Benefits Act, foster care allowance is paid at twenty times the child allowance rate which is 191.80 euro. Consequently, foster care allowance will rise by 48.20 euro per month. In addition to foster care allowance, child allowance is also paid for a child. Thus, together with the rise of the allowance provided for in the Bill, a total of at least 285 euro will be paid as family benefits for a child if guardianship has been established for him or her or a foster care contract has been entered into with respect to him or her. Depending on the structure of the family and the age of children, the amount of family benefits can be higher.
The Bill on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act, the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act and Other Acts (693 SE), initiated by the Government, will transform the organisation of the rehabilitation service into an integral system including both the labour market and social sphere, and update the organisation of the technical aid service in the social sphere. As a result of the work capacity reform, a distinction will be made between work rehabilitation for working age people and social rehabilitation for children, elderly and people with no capacity for work. Work rehabilitation will be organised by the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund and social rehabilitation will be organised by the Social Insurance Board.
The Social Affairs Committee made 33 motions to amend the Bill, some of which concern the rules of legislative drafting and the rest pertain to the content. On the proposal of the Estonian Chamber of Disabled People, working age people with partial capacity for work who do not comply with the requirement to be active in the Unemployment Insurance Fund and are therefore not entitled to work rehabilitation were included among the people receiving the social rehabilitation service. “The amendment proposed by the Bill will give a person the possibility to choose. If a person actively participates in the labour market, he or she will be entitled to receive the service, to receive rehabilitation under the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act. If a person does not wish to be active in the labour market, then he or she will not be entitled to work rehabilitation but he or she will retain the entitlement to the social rehabilitation service which promotes coping with everyday life, under the Social Welfare Act,“ member of the Social Affairs Committee Jüri Jaanson said when presenting the motions to amend. He added that the amendment had extended the range of the persons entitled to the social rehabilitation service by including the persons who do not wish to be active in the labour market. The motions to amend stress that the provision of the services has to follow the principle of individual case management. “This is one of the principal pillars of the whole of this reform,” Jaanson stressed. The Committee moved to postpone the entry into force of the Act until 1 January 2016.
Marika Tuus-Laul and Margus Tsahkna took the floor during the debate.
The Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The result of voting: 30 votes in favour, 49 against. The motion was not supported. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
The Work Capacity Benefit Bill (678 SE), initiated by the Government, regulates the assessment of the capacity for work, and the conditions and procedure for the grant and payment of work capacity benefit. The Bill is part of a larger package of amendments, the reform of the work capacity scheme. The reform provides complex assistance and support for participation in the labour market to people with a health condition, taking into account the individual needs and barriers of every person. An integrated approach means that the assessment of the capacity for work supports the offering of suitable employment services and the finding of a suitable job appropriate to the state of health of the person. The aim of the Bill is to support the working and employment of people with a reduced capacity for work, and to ensure an income for them. The aim is to prevent incapacity for work, and to motivate people to be active in the life of the society to the extent of the capacity for work they still have. The amendments provide for the compensation of the additional costs involved in the work capacity assessment, and the benefit for commuting to work for employees with special needs. There is also a plan to raise the maximum income starting from which the benefit for an employee with partial capacity for work will begin to be reduced. Instead of the 641-euro monthly income, the benefit will be partially reduced starting from the 960-euro salary. The Unemployment Insurance Fund will not be able to stop the payment of the work capacity benefit before it is ascertained why the person has not been active in job-seeking. Regardless of whether the person is active in the labour market or not, he or she will receive the health rehabilitation service in any case. People with partial capacity for work who are either looking for a job or working and who will begin to receive the rehabilitation service through the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund may in the future receive services supporting their capacity for work and improving their health for up to 1500 euro per year instead of today’s 483 euro. The Bill provides for the creation of at least 1000 jobs in the public sector for persons with reduced work capacity. 61 motions to amend the Bill had been submitted in total. They also included the motion to postpone the entry into force of the Act until 1 January 2016.
Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Mihhail Korb, Siret Kotka, Eldar Efendijev, Urbo Vaarmann, Lauri Laasi, Margus Tsahkna, Heimar Lenk, Kalev Kallo, Viktor Vassiljev, Liisa-Ly Pakosta, Enn Eesmaa, Mailis Reps, Priit Toobal, Tarmo Tamm, Kadri Simson and Jüri Jaanson took the floor during the debate.
The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and the Estonian Centre Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The result of voting: 29 votes in favour, 47 against. The motion was not supported. The Bill was sent to the third reading.
The Fisheries Market Organisation Bill (744 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for the implementation of the operational programme for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, as well as the national division of tasks necessary for the administration of the state aid to fisheries, de minimis fisheries aid and other fisheries aid. It also provides for the provisions delegating authority to establish legislative acts concerning the conditions for the grant of assistance, the main procedural provisions concerning the grant of assistance, and the obligations of applicants for assistance and recipients. The Bill is largely based on the current Fisheries Market Regulation Act and the implementation system therefor. According to the Bill, the Minister of Agriculture will be responsible for the area establishing implementing acts.
The European Union Common Agricultural Policy Implementation Bill (745 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes rules in the implementation of the EU CAP, for the application of the EU Regulations applicable in the application of measures, and regulates the organisational side of the use of resources. A significant part of the CAP is comprised of supports for rural development granted on the basis of and pursuant to the procedure provided for in “The Estonian Rural Development Plan 2014-2020”. The expected impact of the supports for rural development for 2014-2020 are discussed in the ex ante evaluation of the programme document “The Estonian Rural Development Plan 2014-2020” on the basis of which supports are granted. The report on this ex ante evaluation has been attached to the Development Plan. The strategic environmental assessment has also been done together with the ex ante evaluation, and a monitoring and evaluation system has been set up to evaluate the results and impacts of the Development Plan. On the proposal of NGO Liivimaa Lihaveis, the Bill was amended by adding the possibility that, besides commercial associations, non-profit association could also apply for the support intended for producer groups. The idea of the establishment of a producer group is to promote joint activity and to jointly market the produce of the members of the group, that is, agricultural producers, with the aim of making as much profit as possible. If a non-profit association has been established to achieve that, then it is reasonable that it would also be able to apply for support similarly to commercial associations. The Bill was amended by adding a provision that allows for the conditions for granting supports to be established before the European Commission approves the Rural Development Plan. This is connected with the fact that the European Commission will not be able to approve the Estonian Rural Development Plan 2014-2020 earlier than in spring 2015. At the same time, the conditions of the measures need to be established earlier at the national level in order that applicants could start their activities and it would be possible to start the reception of applications.
Siret Kotka and Kalvi Kõva took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the State Budget of 2014 Act (746 SE), initiated by the Government, introduces amendments within the budget. Considering that the state budget for 2014 was prepared in the autumn of the preceding year and some of the funding needs have changed, it is expedient to amend the state budget to more effectively achieve the aims set by state agencies.
The Riigikogu heard the survey of the civil service report of 2013. The report was by the Minister of Finance Maris Lauri.
The report points out a longer term trend according to which the number of officials has fallen significantly in comparison with the pre-boom time while the number of employees has remained at almost the same level in central government in the last six years. This is mainly due to the reason that the numbers of employees of the foundations distributing European aid and of universities has grown. Therefore civil service cannot be regarded separately from central government. When adapting the state apparatus with the environment, a situation must be avoided where the functions important for the exercise of public authority are shrunk while the numbers of the employees of foundations and legal persons in public law that remain further from the scope of coordination of the Government grow. For the strengthening of the main functions of the state, priorities need to be set. A uniform policy of growth or cutting of resources in all areas may impair the availability and quality of the main services of the state and hinder the development capability of the state as a whole.
Jaak Aaviksoo and Kristen Michal took the floor during the debate.
The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of ten draft Acts and Resolutions:
The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Approval of the Consolidated Report of 2013 of the State” (715 OE), submitted by the Government. The consolidated annual report consists of the following parts: the management report; the consolidated and the unconsolidated annual accounts of the state, including the report on the implementation of the state budget; additional information concerning local governments; additional information concerning public sector and government sector. The consolidated report includes the audit report on the annual accounts of the state by the National Audit Office.
Jaak Aaviksoo took the floor during the debate.
The Auditor General Alar Karis made a report on the overview of the use and preservation of state assets in 2013 and accuracy of the Consolidated Report of 2013 of the State and legality of the transactions.
Jaak Aaviksoo and Kadri Simson took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the Tobacco Act and Associated Acts (753 SE), initiated by the Government, amends the Tobacco Act by adding the prohibition to sell products intended for the consumption of tobacco products (e.g. water pipes, pipes, cigarette papers, filters, etc.), products used similarly to tobacco products (e.g. e-cigarette) and components thereof (e.g. filter sockets, pipe sockets, cigar holders) to minors. The prohibition for minors to consume, acquire, own and possess products used similarly to tobacco products is also added. According to the Bill, the prohibition to consume products used similarly to tobacco products on the premises of child care institutions (social welfare institutions, schools, kindergartens, camps, etc.) and the delimited areas thereof is established. Also, minors will be prohibited to stay in smoking rooms and smoking areas. The handling of chewing tobacco will also be prohibited. The Bill establishes the quantities of the smokeless tobacco products prohibited for handling that a natural person will be allowed to bring into Estonia for personal use in luggage moving together with him or her.
According to the Bill on Amendments to the Weapons Act and Amendments to Other Associated Act (736 SE), initiated by the Government, problems which have emerged in the implementation of the Weapons Act are solved, the wording of provisions is updated and several provisions are explained in the interests of better intelligibility and correct interpretation. In connection with the amendments made, it is necessary to make specifications also in the Strategic Goods Act. In the State Fees Act, the state fee rates are organised. On the basis of a proposal of the Ministry of Defence, an amendment is also made in the Estonian Defence League Act where the regulation concerning the acquisition of ammunition by an active member of the Defence League is specified. In addition, the wording of the Security Act is amended.
The amendments proposed in the Bill on Amendments to the Assistant Police Officer Act and the Traffic Act (724 SE), initiated by the Government, regulate the applying for an assistant police officer, the completion of the training of an assistant police officer and the passing of the evaluation, and the involvement of assistant police officers in the performance of duties, including the use of special equipment and the implementation of measures. The Bill does not involve changes in the principles or essence of the the status of an assistant police officer.
The Bill on Amendments to the Citizenship Act and the State Fees Act (737 SE), initiated by the Government, simplifies the acquisition of Estonian citizenship for persons under 15 years of age and over 65 years of age, and extends the range of the persons under 18 years of age who have the right to hold dual citizenship. Pursuant to the Citizenship Act currently in force, minors under 15 years of age who were born in Estonia acquire Estonian citizenship by naturalisation if their parents apply for it, provided that the parents have lawfully resided in Estonia for at least five years at the time of submission of the application and are not recognised by any other state to be citizens of that state in accordance with the legislation in force. The amendment provides that such minors will acquire Estonian citizenship automatically from the moment of birth, except in the cases their parents submit an application for not acquiring the citizenship. As a result of the amendment, Estonian citizenship would be acquired also by the children who might be deprived of it due to the inactivity of their parents. Regarding the persons over 65 years of age, the Bill will simplify the acquiring of citizenship by them by abolishing, in their case, the requirement to pass the written part of the language examination taken upon application for Estonian citizenship; they only have to pass the oral examination. The Bill also provides that the right of persons under 18 years of age to hold dual citizenship will extend to persons who have acquired Estonian citizenship by naturalisation and have additionally acquired the citizenship of another state. At the same time they, too, must renounce either their Estonian citizenship or their citizenship of the other state within three years after attaining the age of 18 years.
Eldar Efendijev, Jaak Aaviksoo and Jaak Allik took the floor during the debate. The Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. The result of voting: 10 votes in favour, 43 against. The motion was not supported. The first reading was concluded.
The Bill on Amendments to the Maritime Safety Act and the State Fees Act (738 SE), initiated by the Government, simplifies the procedure for the calculation of the state fees related to technical supervision of ships. The Bill eliminates the current specifications (classified or unclassified ship, coefficients based on the age of the ship, etc.) and the current model of calculation of the state fee based on the length of ship will be transferred to the calculation scheme based on the working hours of the supervisory official. Upon the implementation of the new scheme, the amount of the state fee will be dependent on the size, condition and technical complexity of the ship. The Bill also brings national regulation into conformity with European Union legislation. The rules on maintenance of a passenger list register on national ship lines, and the regulation concerning the security verifications and the issue of the security certificates of ships are transposed. It also establishes implementing provisions of technical nature concerning the placing of marine equipment on the market and on board a ship.
The Bill on Amendments to the Aviation Act and the State Fees Act (740 SE), initiated by the Government, repeals the regulation concerning the rules of the air established nationally in Estonia. In replacement, the EU’s common rules of the air will be applied as of 4 December 2014. The Estonian Civil Aviation Administration will be nominated as the competent authority for oversight. Such an approach will preclude the need to amend the Aviation Act every time that a new EU initiative enters into force. Two standards established in the Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation are transposed. The aim of the national aviation safety programme is to organise the areas related to aviation safety at the national level with a view to improving the civil aviation safety level. The aim of the implementation of the National Facilitation Programme is to facilitate the border-crossing formalities that must be accomplished with respect to aircraft engaged in international operations and their passengers, crew, cargo, mail and supplies. A national regulation is established for aircraft to which the relevant EU Regulation does not extend and which are listed in the Annex to the Regulation. These are, for example, AN-2, L39, and, in part, balloons. On the basis of the EU legal framework, various aspects of aviation security are amended: the procedures on the approval of regulated suppliers of in-flight supplies, known consignors, regulated agents and security instructors are regulated. The Bill regulates the obligation to certify developers of aviation procedures. It also provides for the obligation to pay the state fee for persons who seek approval as persons performing the abovementioned functions. As a new function, the Estonian Civil Aviation Administration will begin to exercise supervision over compliance with parachuting requirements by means of a handbook describing parachuting activities.
The Bill on the Ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (748 SE), initiated by the Government. Of the existing international legislation, the Convention is connected with the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and with the relevant European Union directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. The legislative amendments necessary to transpose the Human Trafficking Directive into Estonian law entered into force in April 2013 when the Act on Amendments to the Victim Support Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts was passed.
The Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure (751 SE), initiated by the Government, amends the necessary elements of two criminal offences in the Penal Code which provide for liability for destruction, damaging, theft or concealment of an important identity document, and for use of or grant of permission to use a falsified important identity document. Both of the amendments to the necessary elements of offences relating to documents arise from the the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings because, for the ratification of the Convention, Estonia will have to be able to also duly implement the Convention, and Estonian national law will have to comply with the requirements of the Convention. The Bill also amends the Penal Code by adding new elements of a criminal offence to the Chapter concerning offences against the state. It provides liability for illegal crossing of border in the cases when the aim of the crossing of the border is to commit another criminal offence against the state in the Republic of Estonia or when the commission of the criminal offence involves violence, deprivation of a person’s liberty, relevant threats, or destruction or damaging of property in order to facilitate the crossing of border. In addition, the Code of Criminal Procedure is amended by adding the possibility to use surveillance activities for the taking of evidence concerning the abovementioned criminal offence (“Illegal crossing of the state border and a temporary borderline of the Republic of Estonia”) if the act is committed by a group.
The Bill on Amendments to the Law Enforcement Act (752 SE), initiated by the Government, changes the current organisation of consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places. The Bill provides for a general prohibition on the consumption of alcohol or a substance causing intoxication and not belonging to the food group in a public place. It will be allowed to consume alcoholic beverages in places where it is sold for consumption on the spot (e.g. catering establishments, accommodation establishments, performing arts institutions, community centres, etc.) and at public events or delimited areas thereof where the local government has given a permission for retail sale of alcohol for consumption on the spot. Local governments will also have the right to determine places where the consumption of alcohol is permitted. At the same time, it will be prohibited to consume alcoholic beverages or to allow local government bodies to permit the consumption of alcoholic beverages in places intended for children or for promoting health.
The sitting ended at 2.57 a.m. on 13 November.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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