At today’s plenary sitting, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas made a report for 2023 on the implementation of the long-term national development strategy “Estonia 2035”. A Bill also passed the first reading.
In her report, Kallas recalled that the strategy that had been adopted in 2021 had established a framework consolidating Estonia’s major strategic goals and courses of action agreed nationally and taking account of international obligations. It is taken into account when making budget decisions. She noted that the strategy had been drafted in co-creation with thousands of people and over several years. “Thus ‘Estonia 2035’ is our common agreement, our expectation to Estonia’s future, as well as our promise to our children.”
According to Kallas, “Estonia 2035” sets five equal and interlinked strategic goals. “First, Estonia’s people are smart, active and care about their health. Second, Estonia’s society is caring, cooperative, and open. Third, Estonia’s economy is strong, innovative, and responsible. Fourth, Estonia offers a safe and high-quality living environment that takes into account the needs of all its inhabitants. Estonia is an innovative, reliable, and people-centered country. The basic principle underpinning these goals is a firm conviction that Estonia is and will remain a democratic and secure state founded on freedom, justice and the rule of law which preserves and develops the Estonian nation, language, and culture,” Kallas said.
In her report, the Prime Minister focused on three topics. They were, first, a reliable country and a safe living environment; second, a responsible, innovative, and knowledge-based economy; and third, smart and active people who care about their health. “It is good to see that we are moving towards the expected outcome, or the target level set has already been achieved, in most of the indicators. They have been marked in either yellow or green in the application “Tree of Truth” by Statistics Estonia. However, it must be admitted that we are moving away from the desired outcome in several areas, and they are above all linked to the deteriorated security situation and the polarisation of society. There is also room for development in climate and economic indicators where we have set very ambitious goals for ourselves,” Kallas said.
Kallas pointed out that currently no concession could be made in security, and that it was existentially important to Estonia that Ukraine would win the war against Russia. She added that the transition to Estonian as the language of instruction was also important in increasing our security and safety level. “We have made a start with it, and we are going to complete it,” Kallas confirmed. At the same time, Kallas noted that, if we acted smartly, we could use the climate neutrality goal to enhance the competitiveness of our economy. “I re-affirm: investment in power generation from oil shale is a thing of the past,” she said. Kallas specified that the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption had been 38 per cent in the previous year. “While this is six percentage points more than the starting level provided in the strategy ‘Estonia 2035’, our goal is that the share of renewable energy in final consumption would be at least 65 per cent,” she noted among other things.
During the debate, Yoko Alender (Reform Party), Hendrik Johannes Terras (Estonia 200), Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), Tanel Kiik (Centre Party), Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party and Reili Rand (Social Democratic Party) took the floor on behalf of their parliamentary groups.
A Bill passed the first reading
The Bill on Amendments to the Nature Conservation Act and the Land Register Act (301 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the first reading. It will eliminate the right of pre-emption that the state has upon transfer of immovables containing natural objects. Under the current Act, the state has a right of pre-emption upon transfer of an immovable located within the boundaries of a shore building exclusion zone, protection site of a species in the protected category I, limited management zone of a protected natural monument, protected area, or limited-conservation area.
In recent years, the state has assessed the application of a right of pre-emption in respect of thousands of purchase and sale transactions but has not used it. According to the explanatory memorandum, the elimination of the right of pre-emption will reduce the workload of administrative bodies in the transfer of immovables containing natural objects and will speed up the conclusion of purchase and sale transactions.
For the purpose of economising, the Bill introduces an amendment according to which damage caused by animals will not be compensated if no state budget funds have been earmarked for the compensation of damages caused by animals ranking lower in the priority list of applications. At the same time, the Bill will increase the threshold for the compensation of the costs incurred to prevent damages caused by animals in order to avoid or prevent damage that might otherwise have to be compensated.
Among other amendments, the Bill will provide the possibility to choose whether a notice concerning the initiation of the proceedings for placing a natural object under protection is published in a national daily newspaper or in a local newspaper and not in both as provided by current procedure. The Bill will also eliminate the requirement to ask for a separate permission when persons carrying out state monitoring or research commissioned by the manager of the protected area need to move around in areas that are under movement restrictions in protected areas.
During the debate, Arvo Aller (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) and Andres Metsoja (Isamaa) took the floor on behalf of their parliamentary groups.
The Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 11 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 52 were against. Thus, the motion was not supported, and the first reading of the Bill was concluded.
Photos (Author: Erik Peinar / Chancellery of the Riigikogu)
Video recording will be available to watch later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.