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The Riigikogu passed two Acts:
The Act on Amendments to the Waste Act (76 SE), initiated by the Government, which introduces to the Act specifications arising from relevant European Union directives, was passed with 77 votes in favour. The Act specifies the definitions of the main concepts of waste management. The Act also helps implement measures regarding waste prevention and encourages the recovery of waste and the use of recovered materials.
The Act on Amendments to the Radiation Act (80 SE), initiated by the Government, which specifies the role of different agencies in ensuring radiation safety, as well as the procedure for safe inclusion of radioactive substances and waste, and reacting to a radiological emergency, was passed with 80 votes in favour (1 abstention).
The chief editor of the Estonian Human Development Report 2010/2011 Marju Lauristin, editor of the report Mati Heidmets and Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Rait Maruste made reports at the deliberation of the matter of significant national importance “Estonian Human Development Report 2010/2011”.
Lauristin noted that this year’s Estonian Human Development Report is actually a comparative analysis of the human development of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. She highlighted national sustainability as the greatest challenge. The comparison of the human development of the three states reveals that none of the Baltic states has as yet managed to develop a comprehensive policy which would be targeted at solving the strategic problems of national sustainability. Although several positive shifts have been achieved, like an extension of the life expectancy and a certain decrease of social inequality, the future prospects of all three are shadowed by a decrease of the already small population. In the case of both Estonia and Latvia, this may lead to human resources waning below the threshold necessary for the development and sustainability of the nation state and national culture already in foreseeable future. When speaking about socio-political options, Lauristin noted that, considering the aging and decrease of Estonia’s population, an increase of social expenditure as a proportion of GDP will be inevitable, whatever the pattern. In her opinion, greater efforts are necessary not only for increasing the birth rate but also for ensuring the development of the capabilities of every child and for halting the emigration of families with children. Lauristin underlined that the aging of the population not only increases the pressure on the pension system but it also requires additional funds from the state for enhancing the quality of life of the people, including making available care possibilities and health care services. Halting the decrease of the population and coping with the human resources deficit are the priorities of the human development of Estonia. The current development may have been successful on the outside, but it has led to internally controversial and low-efficiency policies being practiced in areas of social life that are crucial for the human development.
Heidmets discussed the problems of organising the education issues in Estonia. He noted that while Estonia is striving to catch up with developed countries in economy, health care or ensuring social security, then tasks are different in education. What should be done is, first of all, to ensure sustainability and to remove the obstacles of the development of the education sector. He warned against the emergence of sub-educated social layers. Heidmets also noted that the social standing of teachers will have to be brought into conformity with their contribution to the development of the state. He considered organising the statewide school network necessary. Heidmets stressed that higher education or rather access to higher education and the quality of higher education is also a serious issue.
Maruste stressed that thorough and adequate information, self-analysis and evaluation of the situation are a precondition and basis for success proceeding from right decisions. In view of that, the Estonian Human Development Report 2010‒11 is an extraordinarily valuable undertaking and document. He stated that the people who had drafted the report had generally remained realistic and self-critical, and he highlighted that the report is after all an analysis and vision of sociologists and social scientists and not a programme of a national policy. Maruste noted that if we do not have the perception of the development of sustainability as is said, then let us ask how we could have got that far by just groping around randomly. Maruste underlined that it is necessary to keep society open, to protect and promote democracy, to be positive, not to seek enemies but to try to find friends, and to take care of values, and then the people will find solutions to their problems.
Kadri Simson, Andres Herkel, Eiki Nestor, Paul-Eerik Rummo and Ene Ergma took the floor during the debate.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Utility Models Act, the Patents Act, the Principles of Legal Regulation of Industrial Property Act and the State Fees Act (5 SE), initiated by the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and the Estonian Reform Party Faction. The Bill brings the Acts into conformity with the new version of the Convention on the Grant of European Patents which entered into force in December 2007, that is, the European Patent Convention 2000. As an important amendment, a new type of licence, “the licence of right” is introduced in the field of legal protection of industrial property in Estonia. The owner of a utility model who does not wish to use his or her invention or is unable to do so due to lack of means can permit anyone to use the invention for a certain licence fee.
The Riigikogu Press Service