The agenda of the Riigikogu included ten Bills on Wednesday, of which two were at the third reading, two were at the second reading and six were at the first reading.
1. The Riigikogu passed with 68 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Aliens Act and to the Act on Amendments to the Aliens Act (173 SE), initiated by the Government. The main objective of the Act is to provide the possibility for school students who are third-country nationals residing in the European Union to participate in school trips without visa. In addition, the Bill provides the requirements for extension of residence permits of foreign students in certain specific cases. According to the Bill, the residence permit of an alien may be extended for up to one year if the residence permit has been issued to him or her before 1 September 2009 for studying on the basis of a higher education level curriculum not recognised by the state and if he or she continues studies on the basis of the curriculum in connection with which the residence permit was issued. The residence permit is also extended in the case when the alien continues studies at nationally recognised educational institutions or on the basis of a national curriculum and he or she holds a long-term residence permit of the European Union.
2. The Copyright Act Amendment Act (178 SE), initiated by the Government, was passed with 53 votes in favour. The Act amends § 133 of the Copyright Act by adding a provision to the effect that libraries have the right of home lending of sound carriers without asking permission from the holders of copyrights, after elapse of a certain period of time. Also, a provision is added to the Act, granting libraries which provide services to educational institutions engaged in the field of study of audiovisual art or music the right of home lending of audiovisual and sound works at any time and without asking permission. Libraries, archives and museums are allowed to lend sound and audiovisual works for in-house use without asking permission from owners and free of charge. The Bill repeals the obligation of the copyright committee operating at the Ministry of Culture to submit an overview of the situation regarding copyright in Estonia to the Government of the Republic twice a year.
3. On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Pre-school Child Care Institutions Act, the Private Schools Act and the Hobby School Act (165 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill regulates language training at pre-school child care institutions and drawing up of curricula of child care institutions. The Bill provides that, at a child care institution or a group in which the language of instruction and education is not Estonian, Estonian language instruction is guaranteed on the basis of the national curriculum of pre-school child care institution, for which support is allocated to the local government from the state budget. In addition, the Bill replaces the current title of the study programme “framework curriculum of pre-school education” with the title “national curriculum of pre-school child care institution” and specifies the goals and principles set by this curriculum. Pursuant to the Bill, the Government of the Republic establishes the national curriculum of pre-school child care institution by a regulation, which sets out, among other things, the expected general skills of a 6-7 year old child. In the opinion of the initiator, this allows nursery school teachers to take more account of differences in development potentials of children and to support children who are more advanced in development as well as less advanced children. The Bill is going to be passed on Thursday, 10 April.
4. On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the State Borders Act, the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure (185 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The main objective of the Bill is to introduce amendments into the Code of Criminal Procedure as regards international cooperation in criminal procedure. The Bill implements the measures provided in the Framework Decision of the Council of the European Union for ensuring that procedural decisions related to seizure of property or depositing of evidence which are made in one Member State are executed in an expedient manner and based on the principle of mutual recognition in another Member State. Also, the regulation of criminal procedure is specified in connection with the accession to the Schengen visa area. The Bill amends the regulation of cross-border surveillance, extends the investigation competence of the Border Guard Administration, and recognises the passport of a citizen of a foreign state as an important identity document. On the basis of problems which have arisen in practice, the Bill also introduces amendments to the provisions related to the European arrest warrant, regarding the deficiencies which the European Commission has pointed out in the evaluation report. The regulation of enforcement of imprisonment is also amended, in order to avoid a situation in which different interpretations of the Act enable avoiding of execution of a court judgment which has entered into force.
5. On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community (193 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community. The aim of the Treaty of Lisbon is to complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam and by the Treaty of Nice with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action.
6. On the motion of the Cultural Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Professions Bill (213 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to create an integrated system of awarding qualifications and ensure the functioning thereof. This is done with a view to improving the competitiveness of Estonian workers and developing, assessing, recognising and comparing their professional competence.
7. On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure and Associated Acts (194 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The initiator pointed out that the Bill had been prepared with the aim of enhancing the speed and efficiency of delivery of procedure documents, the availability of procedural assistance and state legal aid to unprivileged persons, and simplifying procedural rules of small claims. The Bill also extends the rights of persons with restricted active legal capacity, increases state liability for damage caused to people, simplifies the removing of unprofessional representatives and advisers from proceedings, establishes court supervision over persons designated by the court (e.g. liquidators), and lowers the time and cost of proceedings in matters concerning several neighbourhood disputes (e.g. access to public roads).
8. On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Commercial Code, the Non-profit Associations Act and Associated Acts (205 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill provides among other things that, upon foundation of a company electronically or through a notary, capital contribution can be paid immediately to the bank account of the legal person which is being founded. The new technical solution enables a bank account to be opened in the name of the company which is being founded via the commercial register undertakings portal or a notary. It is a convenient solution which makes it unnecessary to use a deposit account of a court or to go to the bank office for payment of capital contribution upon foundation of a company. Annual reports will be submitted in electronic form to the court maintaining the register starting from 2010. Until that time, reports can be submitted both on paper and in electronic form. Submitting of the reports in electronic form allows the annual reports to be published notably sooner than has been possible so far.
9. On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Misdemeanour Procedure (218 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The Bill creates a legal basis for implementation of the first stage of the e-file system in criminal procedure as of 1 July 2008. The e-file system is a proceeding system which includes information necessary for more than one participant in the proceeding, ensures standardisation of the proceeding information of registers and agencies, rapid and efficient exchange of information and equal access to the information for persons related to the proceeding.
10. On the motion of the Legal Affairs Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Criminal Procedure Implementation Act (219 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The aim of the Bill is to increase the speed and efficiency of hearing of criminal matters in general procedure. For this purpose, the principle of non-interruption and immediacy is established which requires that hearing of a criminal matter be planned such that it is not interrupted. A court session may be postponed only in the cases provided in the Code.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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