The Riigikogu passed with 85 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Media Services Act and Associated Acts (336 SE), initiated by the Government. The main purpose of the amendments is to create in the media services field a legal regulation and administrative organisation which would meet the principles of the European Union and the Council of Europe and would help ensure the independence of the regulatory body and would take account of the developments of recent years in the Estonian media services market. A situation in conformity with the principles of independence would be one where the granting of media service licences was decided and supervision was exercised by a separate authority. According to this Act, the functions of the regulation and supervision of media services are assigned to the Technical Surveillance Authority operating within the area of administration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Its task would be the evaluation of the applications submitted to the competition for the activity licences for the provision of media services, the granting of licences, the registration of on-demand audiovisual media services, the supervision of compliance with the requirements of the Act and with the conditions of the activity licence, the imposition of state coercion, etc. According to the current law, the abovementioned obligations fall within the competence of the Ministry of Culture and this model does not fit in with the principles recognised in Europe. In addition, the amendments concern forwarding of commercial announcements in children’s programmes, the obligation of the communications undertaking to forward data concerning the licence of the service provider of a retransmittable programme or a programme catalogue, restricting of the availability of services to minors, licences for the provision of television and radio services, and the use of the Estonian language in advertising. The Act enters into force on 1 July 2013; clauses 1 29) and 31) and § 4 enter into force on 1 January 2014.
The Act on Amendments to the Taxation Act and Other Acts (414 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 79 votes in favour. The aim of the Act is to improve the administrative capacity for the taxpayer as well as the tax authority and to ensure greater legal clarity. The amendments promote electronic records management which will reduce the number of documents forwarded on paper to taxable persons and simplify and speed up the communication between the tax authority and the taxable person. The purpose of the advance and follow-up notification system of monetary and non-monetary obligations IRIS developed by the Tax and Customs Board is to link the advance and follow-up notifications forwarded to the taxable person into a single process. IRIS will be interfaced with the e-service environment of the Tax and Customs Board. The amendments also reduce the terms for determining the amount of tax and for expiry of the limitation period for the collection of the amount of tax. This Act also repeals the Estonian SSR Farm Act. The Act enters into force on 1 July 2013; clauses 1 27) and 28) enter into force on 1 January 2014.
The Act on Amendments to the Health Care Services Organisation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (392 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 83 votes in favour. The aim of the amendments is to establish the concept of day treatment in specialised medical care, and the conditions for the provision of this service, and to eliminate the concept of “care treatment” and “care hospital” in the context of specialised medical care. Upon the entry into force of the amendments, the concept of “nursing hospital” will be used instead of “care hospital”, and the concept of “independently provided in-patient nursing care” will be used instead of “care treatment” in the future. The in-patient nursing care service (today “care treatment service”) is essentially a nursing activity, and the main activities include nursing operations and care activity related to nursing operations. Where necessary, the doctor gives consultations and makes treatment orders. Deciding on the need for nursing operations and the performance thereof will be within the competence of the nurse. Among other things, the Act creates an opportunity, besides special care homes, also for general care homes (regardless of the form of ownership) to apply for an activity licence for the provision of the home nursing service, and allows a nurse to independently certify, in the course of provision of nursing care services, the fact of the death of a person who dies.
The Act on Amendments to the Organic Farming Act and the State Fees Act (405 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 82 votes in favour. The purpose of the Act is to simplify the requirements for preparation of an organic product in catering operations and to provide the notification obligation instead of the approval obligation for undertakings. Also, the supervision competence of the authorities within the area of government of the Ministry of Agriculture as regards the supervision exercised over organic feed is specified, and the Organic Farming Act and the State Fees Act are updated according to the needs that have become apparent during the implementation of the Acts. In comparison to the Organic Farming Act which is currently in force, the administrative burden of undertakings will be reduced. The Act enters into force on 1 July 2013.
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Act on Granting International Protection to Aliens and Other Associated Acts (354 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the amendments is to ensure a regulation which allows for asylum seekers to be detained for performance of initial procedural acts or in the case when it is necessary in the interests of the protection of public order or national security. Detention may be imposed only in the case when other surveillance measures provided for in the Act (e.g. residing in a determined place of residence and admission for deposit of a travel document issued by a foreign state) cannot be effectively imposed. In addition to the above, the Bill also specifies issues related to the asylum seekers’ accommodation centre. The accommodation centre remains in the area of government of the Ministry of Social Affairs and its function is to arrange for the provision of accommodation, medical examination and other essential services to asylum seekers. The Social Democratic Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill; 17 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour and 48 voted against. As the motion to suspend was not supported by the Riigikogu, the Bill was sent to the third reading.
On the motion of the Environment Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Ambient Air Protection Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (434 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to transpose the concepts used in European Union law, to specify the regulations in the Act and to update the wording. The regulation concerns the auctioning of greenhouse gas emission allowances and the use of the auctioning revenues, the trading registry holding account and the person trading account, as well as the procedure for calculating the greenhouse gas emission allowances auctioned to aircraft operators. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to and Implementation of the Maintenance of Law and Order Act (424 SE) was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to make amendments which would allow for the current Act to be applied also to inspectional state supervision. The Bill harmonises and amends the current special Acts relating to law enforcement which regulate state supervision. The procedure for the issue of an activity licence or a building, environmental or other permit and the procedure for the grant of monetary or non-monetary aid have not been included in the scope of application of the Act. The Bill is intended to ensure the state supervision proceedings which function on uniform bases, are more effective, have more legal clarity and take more account of the fundamental rights of persons. When the Act enters into force, the concept of “public order” and the protection of public order will become measurable and evaluable on uniform bases throughout the state. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Financial Supervision Authority Act and the Investment Funds Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (430 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to enhance financial supervision of financial conglomerates (large financial groups), to enable units of investment funds of other Member States to be offered pursuant to a simpler procedure in Estonia and to set the Financial Supervision Authority a clearer role in the promotion of the financial knowledge (increasing the financial literacy) of the population. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Motor Third Party Liability Insurance Bill (423 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to make the organisation of motor insurance upon obtaining insurance cover and meeting the claims of victims more understandable and to ensure better insurance cover. The Bill provides for the opportunity to conclude, as an option, an automatically extended insurance contract with the aim of providing maximum protection to the policyholder and ensuring stable and uninterrupted insurance cover. The Bill also provides for the opportunity to apply to the insurer with a claim for compensation for damage. The Bill establishes a compulsory insurance system whereby vehicles which have been entered in the traffic register and do not have a motor insurance contract are automatically included under the insurance cover. This new regulation ensures compensation for damage to victims but also to the owner of the vehicle who causes the damage, and directs drivers to comply with the obligation to conclude a motor insurance contract imposed on them by law. The regulation of motor insurance is brought into conformity with the Law of Obligation Act whereby insurers will be granted the opportunity to better combine compulsory motor insurance with other insurance services. The new Motor Third Party Liability Insurance Act is planned to enter into force on 1 March 2014. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Feedingstuffs Act (431 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to bring the provisions concerning the handling and use of feedingstuffs containing animal protein and the registration and approval of establishments into conformity with European Union law. The aim of the amendments is to ensure traceability and a high level of consumer protection throughout the feed and food chain, to enhance feed hygiene and to reduce the risk that contaminated products enter the food chain. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Rural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the European Union Common Agricultural Policy Implementation Act (432 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The amendments concern the power granted to establish the legislation necessary for application of the common agricultural policy, the “LEADER approach” and the recovery and repayment of aid. The Bill enables the Government and the Minister of Agriculture to establish an individual act, that is, an administrative act in a matter of application of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy which under European Union legislation may be decided by the Member State, for regulating a single case, where necessary. The Bill also increases transparency and integrity in the running of the LEADER approach local action groups and encourages members of local action groups to participate more actively in the decision-making process of the action group. The Bill also updates the provisions concerning the recovery and repayment of aid and repayment of aid by instalments, and the calculation of interest on the amount to be repaid, and brings the provisions into conformity with European Union legislation which has been amended. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Building Act (429 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure full conformity of the Estonian legal order with the European Union Construction Products Regulation laying down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products. The Bill provides for an obligation for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to grant the right to act to a technical assessment body which meets the requirements of the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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