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At the sitting on Wednesday, the Riigikogu concluded the second reading of the Cohabitation Bill (650 SE).

The Bill, initiated by 40 members of the Riigikogu, gives the persons living in non-marital cohabitation the possibility to register their cohabitation and to regulate their mutual legal relations as well as legal relations with third persons. The scope of application of the Bill covers the procedure for entering into a cohabitation agreement, the rights and responsibilities of registered civil partners, and the bases for terminating the cohabitation agreement. The cohabitation agreement will be certified by a notary. The agreement and the proprietary relationship chosen in the agreement will be entered in the register.

The Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee Neeme Suur, who made a report, introduced the 23 motions to amend the Bill that were made during the second reading.

The definition of family has been introduced in the Bill. “This amendment came first of all from the feedback to the Bill. There were complaints that the Bill did not take into consideration the rights of children because it mainly regulated the mutual relations of registered partners, and it was asked where the child was,” Suur said.

Standards of judicial proceedings and also provisions concerning the right of succession were excluded from the Bill.

As a separate package of motions to amend, Suur pointed out that the Marital Property Register would be renamed the Property Relations Register. “It would mean that the Marital Property Register Act should be amended by implementation provisions, because the property relationship chosen in cohabitation cannot be entered in the Marital Property Register as cohabitation is not a marriage,” explained Suur.

Neeme Suur also said that the amendment according to which sisters and brothers and half-sisters and half-brothers cannot enter into a cohabitation agreement was introduced into the Bill for the sake of clarity.

Suur said that in the interest of recognising of marriages concluded abroad, the Bill refers to the Private International Law Act.

The order of the provision of maintenance was introduced to the Bill. The Bill provides that the first person obliged to provide maintenance is the registered partner, before the relatives of the person. The provisions concerning the adoption of children were also specified.

1 January 2016 has been established as the date of entering into force of the Cohabitation Act and its implementing legislation.

Valdo Randpere, Laine Randjärv, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Barbi Pilvre, Toomas Tõniste, Igor Gräzin, Marko Pomerants, Erki Nool, Jaak Allik, Maimu Berg, Siim Kiisler, Liisa-Ly Pakosta, Aivar Riisalu, Rait Maruste, Priit Sibul, Lembit Kaljuvee, Olga Sõtnik, Tarmo Tamm, Annely Akkermann, Viktor Vassiljev and Imre Sooäär took the floor in the debate in the course of the second reading.

The motion of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction to suspend the second reading of the Bill was not supported. 33 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of the motion and 41 were against.

The Bill was sent to the third reading scheduled for 9 October.

The Riigikogu also concluded the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Copyright Act (697 SE), initiated by the Government. The amendment introduced by the Bill will give memory institutions the possibility to make available to the public and to reproduce the works and phonograms that have been found to be orphan works and belong to the collections of memory institutions.

The Riigikogu concluded the first reading of five Bills:

The Bill on Amendments to the Sports Act and the Administrative Co-operation Act (722 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes the legal basis for the implementation of the system of support, necessary for payment of remuneration to coaches. In the future, sports organisations will have the possibility to apply for support from the state budget to pay remuneration to coaches.

The support is intended for the remuneration of the work of coaches with the fifth and higher professional level at sports clubs and sports schools that train children and young people of up to 23 years of age. 3.51 million euro are planned for that in the state budget starting from 2015.

The Chairman of the Cultural Affairs Committee Lauri Luik said that the amendment of the Act would give the Minister of Culture the authority to establish the bases for the grant of and the procedure for the allocation of the support, and the right of a legal person governed by private law, the Foundation of Sports Training and Information, who in turn is supervised by the Ministry of Culture, to administer the money of the support on the basis of a contract under public law.

Erki Nool and Tatjana Jaanson took the floor during the debate.

The Bill on Amendments to the Performing Arts Institutions Act and the National Opera Act (709 SE), initiated by the Government, amends the regulations concerning the conclusion of employment contracts with persons engaged in creative activities.

The Minister of Culture Urve Tiidus who presented the Bill said that, in the future, a contract without a fixed term would 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 current law provides only for the possibility of concluding a fixed-term employment contract for up to five years.

The Bill 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. In Tiidus’s words, this means that theatres will be 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 Bill 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 Bill on the Ratification of the Nagoya – Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (711 SE), initiated by the Government. The Protocol is a multilateral environment agreement which aims to contribute to the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms, with a special emphasis on the safe transboundary movement of such LMOs.

The Bill on Amendments to the Rescue Act (676 SE), initiated by the Government. According to the Bill, the Emergency Response Centre will be given the right to use live-streaming surveillance equipment in public places to detect threats in real time. The Emergency Response Centre will be given the right to ascertain the location of a person who has contacted the emergency call number 112. The aim is to ensure greater security of people through quicker response to events that require emergency response. The Road Administration will be given the right to obtain data from the data of the emergency notices of the rescue information system for the performance of the functions imposed on it by law.

The Bill on Amendments to the Law of Ship Flag and Registers of Ships Act, the Land Register Act and the Marital Property Register Act (708 SE), initiated by the Government, is connected with the Act on Amendments to the Courts Act and Other Associated Acts, passed by the Riigikogu on 11 June 2014. Among other things, it will transfer the maintenance of the ship registry from the registration departments of courts to the registry department of Tartu County Court. The ship registry is a state register which is comprised of the ship register and the register of ships under construction.

The Riigikogu rejected the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Holding a Referendum on the Issue of Adoption of the Cohabitation Bill (650 SE), Initiated by the Members of the Riigikogu” (704 OE), submitted by the Pro Patria and Res Public Union Faction.

The draft Resolution provided for the holding of a referendum on 1 March 2015 on the issue of the adoption of the Cohabitation Act.

Priit Sibul (on 7 October) and Indrek Saar took the floor during the debate.

The result of voting: 35 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour and 42 voted against. Thus the draft Resolution was not supported and the draft Resolution was dropped from the legislative proceeding.

The sitting ended at 7.40 p.m.

Photos of the sitting 

The verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) 

The Riigikogu Press Service