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Riigikogu

At today’s plenary sitting, the Riigikogu passed 27 Acts and two Resolutions. At the end of the sitting, the Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu made a political statement.

The Act on Amendments to the Courts Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure (776 SE), initiated by the Government, creates the possibility to pay additional remuneration to judges for on-call time.

The aim of additional remuneration of on-call time is to ensure smooth administration of justice also outside of working hours in situations where provided for by law, taking into account that the judges’ salary system must be in accordance with the heightened occupational requirements and restrictions for judges and foster a lasting and high-quality service relationship.

The current regulation does not allow for payment of additional remuneration to a judge when the judge must perform urgent procedural acts provided for in the Codes concerning procedures, or be available for the performance thereof (i.e. be on call) on public holidays and weekends. On-call time is not covered by the judge’s salary.

In addition, an amendment provides that, if a justice of the Supreme Court wishes to be released from office at their own request or due to age, the Supreme Court en banc, and not the Riigikogu, releases the justice of the Supreme Court from office.

73 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Personal Data Protection Act Implementation Act (778 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, provides for the implementation of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation and the Law Enforcement Directive in various legal areas.

The Act provides for the precise purposes of and bases for personal data processing, and the permitted scope of personal data processing.

The Act amends 126 Acts. As of 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation is in force in the European Union, and relevant amendments must be introduced into the Estonian Acts to implement it and the Law Enforcement Directive.

The Act updates the regulations concerning databases – the purposes of processing of personal data and the compositions of data are amended, and the period of preservation of data is limited. The establishment of the statutes of databases has been transferred from the Government level to the competence of ministers where possible.

Jüri Adams (Estonian Free Party) took the floor during the debate.

61 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and ten voted against, and there was one abstention.

Under the Act on Amendments to the Riigikogu Rules of Procedure and Internal Rules Act and the Constitutional Review Court Procedure Act (762 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, the appointment of members of the select committees, the committees of investigation and the study committees, in addition to those of the standing committees, and the approval of changes thereto fall within the competence of the Board of the Riigikogu.

In addition, the work arrangements of the plenary assembly is made more flexible. While up to now, the principle applied that replies to interpellations were scheduled only for Monday’s sittings, and the readings of draft legislation were scheduled for sittings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, in the future, it will be possible to reply to interpellations and to hold readings of draft legislation on all sitting days. A time restriction is imposed on Monday’s sitting.

The Act specifies the regulation of the deliberation of a motion to express no confidence in the Government of the Republic, the Prime Minister or any other minister. Amendments concerning the rules of legislative drafting are also made.

The aim of the Act is to reduce bureaucracy in the organisation of the work of the Riigikogu and to make the work processes quicker and more flexible.

In addition, the Question Time of the Riigikogu is extended by one hour by bringing it forward. In Question Time, two minutes is allotted for putting a question, instead of the current one minute, and three minutes is allotted for replying, instead of two minutes.

Jüri Adams (Estonian Free Party) took the floor during the debate.

70 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Code of Enforcement Procedure and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (exerting pressure on maintenance debtors) (737 SE), initiated by the Government, provides the state with enhanced possibilities to collect debts from persons who evade payment of maintenance for children.

In the event of failure to pay maintenance without a good reason, in the future, the court will be able to revoke the debtor’s travel documents and to prohibit the issuing thereof. It is obligatory in Estonia for all persons to hold an ID-card and it cannot be revoked. However, the measure restricts the right of a maintenance debtor to travel outside the European Union.

The Act also creates the possibility to transfer a vehicle of a maintenance debtor to a bailiff with the assistance of the police. The police will have an additional obligation to check, in the course of other duties, whether a bailiff has made a notation concerning prohibition on disposal in the motor register regarding the vehicle. Upon ascertainment of such a notation, the police has the right to remove the vehicle from the owner.

The Act also obligates third persons (e.g. banks, casinos and pawn shops) who are under the obligation to identify persons to refuse performance of monetary obligations exceeding 5000 euro in cash to maintenance debtors. They are also obligated to notify the bailiff of a financial claim of a debtor; it is possible for the bailiff to seize the claim to cover the maintenance.

The Act enters into force on 1 January 2021.

Monika Haukanõmm took the floor during the debate.

67 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and two were against.

The Act on Amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure and Other Acts (759 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes restrictions on the right of appeal in civil proceedings, enforcement proceedings and bankruptcy proceedings. The restrictions concern both the appealing against procedural rulings and the appealing against final decisions on matters on petition. The proposals made by the Supreme Court aim to ensure procedural economy, and better use of judicial resource. The Act also specifies the limit for the reimbursement of the remuneration and expenses of the trustee in bankruptcy from state funds. Under the implementing provision, in the future, judicial decisions that have entered into force as of 1 January 2006 will be subject to publication on the Internet.

65 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and five were against.

The general objective of the Act on Amendments to the Penal Code and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (658 SE), initiated by the Government, is to reduce recidivism and to increase social security.

The Act creates the possibility to impose life imprisonment on persons with recidivist past who commit manslaughter or a sexual offence again. Victims of serious crimes are given an opportunity to express their opinion on the release of an offender on parole. The amendment aims to pay more attention to the rights of the victim and the liability of criminals.

In addition, the Act organises the regulation of life imprisonment. Under the current law, a person can be released on parole in the case of life imprisonment after he or she has served thirty years of imprisonment. The Act allows for a person serving life imprisonment to be placed in an open prison if he or she has served at least 23 years of imprisonment. The Act creates the possibility to release on parole a prisoner serving life imprisonment if he or she has served at least 25 years of imprisonment. A person who is released on parole in the case of life imprisonment undertakes to be subjected to supervision of conduct in order that his or her coping in society would be secure.

The Act also creates the possibility to enter into an agreement for leaving the country with an alien within the framework of settlement proceedings (except with regard to a person accused of a serious crime), which involves prohibition on entry.

67 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Trade Marks Act, the Industrial Design Protection Act and Other Acts (765 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, confers the exclusive competence to resolve disputes relating to intellectual property rights upon Harju County Court. In the current legislation, all Estonian county courts have the competence to adjudicate civil matters relating to intellectual property. In practice, however, the majority of intellectual property disputes end up in Harju County Court, which is also the only court that has judges specialised in intellectual property.

In addition, with an amendment, the Estonian Patent Office will have the possibility to use electronic proceedings in the case of trade marks and designs, which will facilitate electronic communication between the Estonian Patent Office and persons. For that, possibilities to submit and release information electronically are provided for.

The amendments also simplify acquisition of the profession of patent attorney for sworn advocates. Under the current Act, a person may be awarded the profession of a patent attorney if the person has worked for a patent attorney or for a company of patent attorneys at least for the last four years. In the future, the time spent providing legal services in the field of industrial property in a law office will also be included in the length of service required to acquire the profession. However, the requirement to take the professional examination for patent attorneys is maintained for sworn advocates.

65 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act, five were against, and there was one abstention.

The Act on Amendments to the Traffic Act (752 SE), initiated by the Legal Affairs Committee, creates the possibility to implement portable speed cameras in order to calm traffic and thereby to reduce the number of accidents.

At present, it is possible to use two speed measuring solutions out of three, that is, measuring with hand camera and measuring with fixed camera, in Estonia. The possibility of using mobile speed cameras does not change the current legal order, that is, the outcome will be the same for persons. However, the persons exercising traffic supervision have the possibility to influence a significantly greater number of people in regions where it was impossible earlier.

The amendment also creates the possibility for roadworthiness tests on vehicles registered in the motor register but mainly engaged in international traffic (in Europe) to be carried out outside Estonia. At the same time, the amendment requires that roadworthiness tests performed outside Estonia must be carried out in accordance with requirements equivalent to those provided for in the Traffic Act and legislation established on the basis thereof. Definite persons who have the permission to carry out roadworthiness tests on vehicles registered in the motor register are defined in cooperation agreements. Before the conclusion of a relevant cooperation agreement, the Road Administration evaluates the relevant requirements of the respective country and, if necessary, carries out a thorough training and instruction of the persons designated in the cooperation agreement. No changes regarding the carrying out of roadworthiness tests are involved for the owner or authorised user of a vehicle or the person who submits a vehicle to a roadworthiness test. The competitiveness of transport companies will increase, because they have the possibility to have roadworthiness tests on their vehicle fleet to be carried out outside Estonia.

65 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and there was one abstention.

The Act on Amendments to the Official Statistics Act and the Public Information Act (794 SE), initiated by the Government, enables to interconnect data held in databases, to provide better services, to reduce administrative burden and to produce official statistics on the basis of the data collected.

The Act provides for the ‘once-only’ principle when collecting data in order to reduce the administrative burden when submitting data and to ensure more effective functioning of the state. A database is used for the performance of functions provided in an Act, legislation issued on the basis thereof or an international agreement. If the data necessary for the performance of such functions are already there in a database, such data must be used, instead of asking them additionally.

61 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Accounting Act (795 SE), initiated by the Government, makes machine-processable invoices mandatory in invoicing with the public sector. The amendments aim to reduce the workload and the time required in invoicing with the public sector. The European Union directive on e-invoicing is also transposed.

Electronic invoice is a machine-readable document drawn up on the basis of a common standard and sent from one software system to another in order to avoid entering data by hand when paying the invoice.

60 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and six were against.

The Act on Amendments to the Trade Marks Act, the Principles of Legal Regulation of Industrial Property Act and Other Acts (793 SE), initiated by the Government, transposes the directive harmonising trade mark law in EU Member States. The requirement that signs protected as trade marks must be capable of being represented graphically is eliminated. A trade mark is a sign used to distinguish the goods or services of an undertaking from similar goods or services of other undertakings. The Act simplifies the protection of non-traditional trade marks, e.g. sound, multimedia and hologram signs as it will be possible to submit them to the Estonian Patent Office also as sound or video files in the future.

In order to meet the requirements of the directive, the Board of Appeal will be transferred from the Ministry of Justice to the Estonian Patent Office, that is, the central industrial property office of the state. The board is an independent body which resolves disputes relating to industrial property (trade mark, patent, design) by way of mandatory pre-trial proceedings. In addition, the structure of the Board of Appeal is amended. A board consisting of two permanent members is provided for, instead of the current eight-member board. Also in the future, the board will settle disputes in a three-member panel, involving in its membership an additional member as an expert in the relevant field. In addition to the appeals against decisions from the Estonian Patent Office, and notices of opposition of trade marks, the board will adjudicate applications for declaration of nullity of the exclusive right of the proprietor of a trade mark, and for declaration of the exclusive right of the proprietor of a trade mark extinguished, and applications for revocation of legal protection granted to other objects of industrial property rights which are resolved by county courts at present.

56 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and six were against.

The Act on Amendments to the Ports Act and the Liquid Fuel Act (780 SE), initiated by the Government, implements the European Union Regulation establishing a framework for the provision of port services and common rules on the financial transparency of ports in ports of the trans-European transport network, or TEN-T.

The requirements for the managing bodies of the ports for consultation of port users and stakeholders are included in the Ports Act. The stakeholders must be consulted in the cases when changes are planned in the matters specified in the Regulation. The Competition Authority is designated to resolve complaints due to application of the Regulation. The Act establishes the procedure for handling complaints, and the possibility of imposing a penalty payment if a port fails to comply with a precept in the event of a violation.

In Estonia, ten ports belong to the trans-European TEN-T network: Tallinn Old City Harbour, Paldiski South Harbour, and the ports of Muuga, Paljassaare, Rohuküla, Heltermaa, Kuivastu, Virtsu, Pärnu and Sillamäe.

The Liquid Fuel Act is also amended. In the implementation of the amendment that entered into force on 1 May, it has appeared that it is impossible to statistically transfer biofuel between suppliers on account of biomethane as of 1 January 2019 due to inaccurate use of a term in subsection 21 (1) of the Liquid Fuel Act. Biomethane is a category of biofuel, and the amendments correct the error that has occurred.

Arto Aas (Reform Party) took the floor during the debate.

34 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and 25 were against.

The Act on Amendments to the Industrial Emissions Act and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (736 SE), initiated by the Government, specifies the provisions of the current Act and eliminates conflicts with European Union law. The amendments are primarily of a technical nature: the wording of provisions is improved, a more uniform system of concepts are used, and the requirements for the submission and disclosure of the special environmental inspection report are specified. The Act provides that, for testing and using emerging techniques, the issuer of permits may grant temporary derogations in the rules in order to prevent potential pollution. The Act provides for the possibility to apply the requirement to implement relevant preventive measures within nine months. This will simplify the testing and use of emerging techniques.

An amendment also amends the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act. The environmental sector has for a long time been searching for a solution to the problem of end-of-life tyres. By now it has appeared that tyre chips could be successfully used in producing shale oil. In the future, shale-derived fuel oil will not have to be produced 100 % from oil shale, but 70 % of the mass of the main component will have to be oil shale, and other raw materials or fuel components may be used to the extent of the remaining 30 %.

57 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and four were against.

The International Sanctions Act (721 SE), initiated by the Government, updates and organises the Act. The new consolidated text of the International Sanctions Act corrects the distribution of competence in the national implementation of international sanctions so that it would be in conformity with developed sanction regimes; adds a legal framework concerning the imposition of sanctions by the Government of the Republic for situations where no agreement on the imposition of sanctions is reached in the UN or the EU; updates the special regulation of financial sanction and amends the Penal Code so that it would allow for more efficient proceedings on violations of sanctions.

The new Act helps perform the obligation of Estonia to impose international sanctions without delay and correctly, arising from international and European Union law.

58 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Police and Border Guard Act, the Rescue Service Act and the Act on Amendments to the Military Service Act and Other Acts (768 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for a more flexible organisation of the employment in service of the Deputy Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board, and the promotion in the service rank of a police officer. The grant of the state old-age pension of rescue service workers is also specified.

According to the Act, rescue service workers who have the required length of rescue service and who attain pension age after 1 March 2023 also retain the entitlement to the increase in old-age pension. The Act also provides for the entitlement to an increase in the old-age pension of rescue service worker for persons who were in rescue service at the time of entry into force of the Act (on 1 March 2008) but who have left the service after that and are not retiring from rescue service. Under the Act, rescue service workers in the case of whom the conditions for receiving the pension are met but who do not retire immediately from rescue service also benefit from an increase in the old-age pension.

In addition, the restriction that does not allow payment of special pension to police officers while they are serving in the position of police officer is eliminated from the Police and Border Guard Act. According to the projections of the Police and Border Guard Board, 1235 police officers will retire in 2019–2025, and one possibility to solve the problem is to eliminate the prohibition on receiving police pension and continuing working in the police service at the same time.

45 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act, four were against, and there was one abstention.

 The Act on Amendments to the Estonian Defence Forces Organisation Act (783 SE), initiated by the Security Authorities Surveillance Select Committee, extends the rights of the Defence Forces in the conduct of a background check of persons, in order to verify their suitability to be employed in the Defence Forces or to cooperate with the Defence Forces. According to the Act, the Defence Forces are able to perform acts to a wider extent than the current verification against registers, and to use covert measures to ensure that the collection of information is covert, upon obtaining information needed for background check. The function of collecting and processing information to protect the restricted military area of the Defence Forces is provided for for the Defence Forces as a new function upon the conduct of military intelligence.

The Act gives the Defence Forces the right to collect and process data in order to ensure the protection of their restricted military area and to prevent potential threat. The above-mentioned amendments are necessary in order that, in the event of incidents directly affecting security, the Defence Forces were able to identify a threat and to respond to it itself in a timely manner.

56 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and there was one abstention.

The Act on Amendments to the Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act (788 SE), initiated by the Rural Affairs Committee, provides for a provision delegating authority to the Government to recognise adverse climatic events. In the future, the Government may recognise, by an order, the occurrence of adverse climatic events that cause important economic damage to farmers and are significantly different from ordinary weather conditions.

Thereby, a message that an extraordinary situation has arisen is sent at national level to society, as well as farmers, and other persons and organisations involved in the value chain of agricultural products.

The weather conditions will be assessed on the basis of the long-term observation data collected about ordinary years. The order specified in the Act will only have informative content and will not affect the contractual relations of farmers.

The need to amend the Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act aggravated due to the exceptionally hot and dry summer of 2018, but autumn 2017 with considerably more than average precipitation was also complicated for the agricultural sector.

52 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Plant Propagation and Plant Variety Rights Act, the Administrative Co-operation Act and the State Fees Act (733 SE), initiated by the Government, updates the Act, reduces the functions of the state, and increases the producers’ own responsibility.

The Act simplifies the system for certification of seeds so that seed producers would have the possibility to have a field inspection done in the event of a certified seed category, and to draw samples and also to analyse them in the event of all categories of seeds subject to certification. Persons who wish a field inspection, a sampling or a laboratory analysis of samples to be carried out, or to provide an abovementioned service, will have to have authorisation for economic activity.

The amendments also concern the entry of varieties of fruit species in the Variety List. Varieties of fruit species will be included among the varieties of species entered in the Variety List. Up to now, it has been possible to register varieties of fruit species, but they have not been entered in the Variety List. As of 1 January 2017, the common list of varieties of the European Union, FRUMATIS, began to be established, and in connection with that, the possibility to enter also varieties of fruit species in the Variety List in Estonia will be created.

An amendment concerns the availability of the information on seeds produced privately, and the payment of licence fee for using a protected variety to the holder. That is, by way of a difference, it will be permitted to produce seeds of certain important crops for own use, but a fee will also have to be paid to the holder for that. Under the current Act, holders do not obtain sufficient information on seeds of varieties produced privately, nor do they receive any fee for the use of the varieties, and consequently they also have no information or basis for implementing protection of their rights. As a result of that, the holders’ interest in the Estonian market has fallen, and therefore the newest, most productive, and most disease and pest tolerant varieties are not available on the Estonian market. In order to improve the situation on the Estonian market and to raise productivity, the Act amends the provisions on the scope of plant variety rights.

The Act also increases the amounts of the state fees for the certification of seeds. Seed producers who use the opportunity to carry out field inspections and to draw samples from seed lots subject to certification themselves if they have a relevant authorisation for activity, as provided for by the Act, or who avail themselves of the services of persons who hold a relevant activity permit, are exempt from payment of state fee.

In addition, the establishment of a system of notification for collecting data on varieties and seeds used in agricultural production is provided for.

46 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Release into Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms Act and the Plant Protection Act (681 SE), initiated by the Government, abandons the establishment of the database of the locations and handlers of genetically modified (GM) crops. The possibility to enter the relevant data into the plant health register is created instead. Also, under the Act, in the future, to cultivate a GM crop, a prior agreement will have to be reached with beekeepers whose bee colonies are located at least at a three-kilometre distance from the field.

For handling a GM crop which includes the cultivation thereof in a field on the basis of a European Union marketing authorisation, transportation related to the cultivation (to the field before sowing, and to storage after harvest) and storage before marketing, a notice of economic activities will have to be submitted to the Agricultural Board.

In the European Union, including in Estonia, it is permitted to cultivate only one GM crop – maize MON 810. The varieties of this maize have been developed for cultivation in southern regions and therefore so far no farmer has been interested in the cultivation of the GM crop allowed in Estonia. GM crops are not cultivated in Estonia at present, and therefore there is also no need to establish a new national database.

45 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and six were against.

The Higher Education Act (725 SE), initiated by the Government, organises and simplifies the regulations relating to higher education.

The Act increases flexibility both for students and institutions of higher education, facilitates cooperation between institutions of higher education, and strengthens the links between universities and society. The Act supports the shaping of a career model that is attractive to academic workers in institutions of higher education and research institutions, one aim being to motivate young people to choose the profession of teacher in higher education and researcher.

As regards the research funding measures, the current institutional and personal research grants of research and development are merged into a single grant category. Besides, a targeted grant is introduced, which enables targeted support of research activities arising from the national strategic objectives as necessary.

The new Higher Education Act also covers the provisions of the current Institutions of Professional Higher Education Act and Private Schools Act. As a result of the amendments, the amount of regulations in the higher education will decrease by nearly three times.

Toomas Jürgenstein (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.

The Act enters into force on 1 September 2019.

53 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Estonian Academy of Arts Act (730 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes the mission, the functions, and the bases for the management and funding of the Academy. The Act is connected with the Higher Education Act.

The Act provides for the area of responsibility of the Academy in the fields of art, design and architecture. It also points out the function of the institution of higher education to engage in art and science which also includes a specific form of research, artistic research. The management structure of the Academy is updated so that the Council, the Senate and the Rector are the managing bodies of the Academy. Under the Act, the Academy has a nine-member Council that makes strategic decisions and involves external members and whose membership is determined by the Government for five years.

The Act additionally provides that a managing body of the Academy is the Senate which is responsible for the issues of instruction, research and development. The Senate has the right to issue regulations within its competence and adopt resolutions. The Rector as a managing body of the Academy and the Chairman of the Senate is responsible for the statutes, the development plan and the implementation of the budget of the Academy.

The Academy is financed from the state budget, and the bases for the financing are not changed. Compared to the current law, the Act provides for a change concerning the founding of private schools or research and development institutions in private law. At present, it is possible to found one in the case when it is a foundation where one of the founders is the state, while under an amendment, legal persons in private law founded by the Academy are not entitled to found private schools or research and development institutions in private law.

The Act enters into force on 1 September 2019. The new management model will be implemented in full as of 1 January 2020.

52 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre Act (728 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes the mission, the functions, and the bases for the management and funding of the Academy. The Act is connected with the Higher Education Act.

The Act provides for the area of responsibility of the Academy in the fields of music and theatre, as well as for the role of the Academy in promoting the general education and vocational education in music. The management structure of the Academy is updated so that the Council, the Senate and the Rector are the managing bodies of the Academy. Under the Act, the Academy has a seven-member Council that makes strategic decisions and involves external members and whose membership is determined by the Government for five years. The Act additionally provides that a managing body of the Academy is the Senate which is responsible for the issues of instruction, research and development. The Senate has the right to issue regulations within its competence and adopt resolutions. The Rector as a managing body of the Academy and the Chairman of the Senate is responsible for the statutes, the development plan and the implementation of the budget of the Academy.

The Academy is financed from the state budget, and the bases for the financing are not changed. Compared to the current law, the Act provides for a change concerning the founding of private schools or research and development institutions in private law. At present, it is possible to found one in the case when it is a foundation where one of the founders is the state, while under an amendment, legal persons in private law founded by the Academy are not entitled to found private schools or research and development institutions in private law.

The Act enters into force on 1 September 2019. The new management model will be implemented in full as of 1 January 2020.

54 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Estonian University of Life Sciences Act (727 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes the mission, the functions, and the bases for the management and funding of the University. The Act is connected with the Higher Education Act.

The Act provides for the area of responsibility of the University in the areas relating to the development of rural life and the rural economy. The management structure of the University is updated by providing that the University is managed by the Council, the Senate and the Rector. Under the Act, the University has a seven-member Council that makes strategic decisions and involves external members and whose membership is determined by the Government for five years. The Act additionally provides that a managing body of the University is the Senate which is responsible for the issues of instruction, research and development. The Senate has the right to issue regulations within its competence and adopt resolutions. The Rector as a managing body of the University and the Chairman of the Senate is responsible for the statutes, the development plan and the implementation of the budget of the University.

The University is financed from the state budget, and the bases for the financing are not changed. Compared to the current law, the Act provides for a change concerning the founding of private schools or research and development institutions in private law. At present, it is possible to found one in the case when it is a foundation where one of the founders is the state, while under an amendment, legal persons in private law founded by the University are not entitled to found private schools or research and development institutions in private law.

The Act enters into force on 1 September 2019. The new management model will be implemented in full as of 1 January 2020.

51 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.

The Tallinn University Act (726 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes the mission, the functions, and the bases for the management and funding of the University. The Act is connected with the Higher Education Act.

The Act provides for the area of responsibility of the University in educational science, humanities, natural science and social science, as well as arts, teacher training and pedagogy. The Act updates the management structure of the University so that the Council, the Senate and the Rector are the managing bodies of the University.

Under the Act, the University has an eleven-member Council that makes strategic decisions and involves external members and whose membership is determined by the Government for five years. The Act additionally provides that a managing body of the University is the Senate which is responsible for the issues of instruction, research and development. The Senate has the right to issue regulations within its competence and adopt resolutions. The Rector as a managing body of the University and the Chairman of the Senate is responsible for the statutes, the development plan and the implementation of the budget of the University.

The University is financed from the state budget, and the bases for the financing are not changed. Compared to the current law, the Act provides for a change concerning the founding of private schools or research and development institutions in private law. At present, it is possible to found one in the case when it is a foundation where one of the founders is the state, while under an amendment, legal persons in private law founded by the University are not entitled to found private schools or research and development institutions in private law.

The Act enters into force on 1 September 2019. The new management model will be implemented in full as of 1 January 2020.

52 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and there was one abstention.

The aim of the Heritage Conservation Act (684 SE), initiated by the Government, is to balance the rights and duties of the state and those of the owners of monuments.

For that, the state takes up part of the costs that owners of cultural monuments must bear in connection with monuments. For example, the expenses made on study and heritage conservation supervision will be compensated to the owner of a monument or structure located within heritage conservation area. Also, in the future, the preparation of special conditions for heritage conservation which so far was carried out at the expense of the owner of the monument will be the task of the National Heritage Board. In addition to the support for preservation of a monument which has also been allocated under the current Act, there will be an additional possibility to support the preservation of monuments restituted in the course of the ownership reform from the ownership reform reserve fund.

The Act sets out that, when changes are made to historical environment, the special needs of disabled people must be taken into account, and it is specified that when carrying out works on a monument, original materials and traditional technologies are used if possible and in justified cases.

The Act stresses the need to involve the owner in the decision-making, and attention is paid to simplification of the proceedings, for example, in the case of certain activities (certain works and studies), the current obligation to apply for an activity licence is omitted and it is replaced by a notification obligation.

The Act is intended to attach importance to advisory and prevention activities.

The Act enters into force on 1 May 2019.

During the debate, Toomas Jürgenstein (Social Democratic Party), Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits (Isamaa) and Krista Aru (Estonian Free Party) took the floor.

43 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and 17 were against.

The Act on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Belarus on Social Security (790 SE), initiated by the Government, ensures pension insurance to persons when they move from one country to the other. It also determines which jurisdiction applies to the taxes paid on the remuneration of persons who live in one country and work in the other or are posted to the other country.

The Agreement concerns persons of old-age pension age living in Estonia and Belarus who wish to receive old-age pension. The Agreement also concerns working-age persons and children who wish to receive their pension under favourable conditions or survivor’s pension in the other country. In addition, the Agreement concerns working-age persons who live in one country and work in the other (e.g. persons working for transport businesses, seafarers, undertakings) or are posted to the other country. As a general rule, the legislation of the country in which the person actually works is applied to a person working in the territory of a contracting party (with the exception of ship crew members). According to the data of Statistics Estonia, around 11,800 Belarusians lived in Estonia at the beginning of 2017.

The Agreement was signed on 7 December 2018, and ratification of the Agreement by the Riigikogu was a prerequisite for the entry into force of the Agreement.

39 members of the Riigikogu supported the Act.

The Act on Accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (791 SE), initiated by the Government, aims to reduce the environmental effect of dismantling of ships and to improve the occupational safety conditions related to such activity. The Convention establishes the environmental protection and occupational safety requirements for the dismantling of ships.

The recycling, or dismantling of ships may have negative effects on both human health and the environment. For example, a ship destined to be processed may contain hazardous substances: asbestos, heavy metals, fossil fuel residues and ozone-depleting substances. Accession to the Convention will also affect the ship recycling facilities where ships of a gross tonnage of 500 and above are dismantled. Shipowners will have the obligation to develop an Inventory of Hazardous Materials and to help state authorities with information on administrative proceedings. Accession to the Convention will also affect the state authorities that are connected with issuing authorisations and environmental permits to businesses engaged in ship recycling, and with the supervision of such businesses.

39 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and three were against.

The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making a Proposal to the Government of the Republic to Impose Sanctions in connection with the Attack and Seizure of Ukrainian Vessels in the Kerch Strait” (782 OE), submitted by the Free Party Faction, makes a proposal to the Government to impose prohibition on entry to the territory of the Republic of Estonia and the entire Schengen Convention area on the citizens of the Russian Federation who have facilitated or actively justified the illegal armed attack by the Russian Federation against Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait on the Black Sea, and the imprisonment of the crews of the vessels.

During the debate, Oudekki Loone (Centre Party), Andres Herkel (Estonian Free Party) and Margus Tsahkna took the floor.

56 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution and two were against.

The Resolution of the Riigikogu “The Fundamentals of the State Reform and Good Administration” (777 OE), submitted by the Study Committee to Draw Up the Development Objectives for the State Reform, formulates the principles for more efficient and human-centred governance.

The Resolution establishes the fundamentals of the state reform and good administration which will improve the work of the government sector. The aim is to solve problems faster and to abandon unnecessary activities and excessive administrative burden.

The Resolution consists of seven items with the following subheadings: “Human-centredness”, “The Fundamental Principles of the Constitution Are Not Changed”, “Adaptable Estonia”, “Smaller Administrative Burden”, “Legal Clarity and Intelligibility”, “Efficient Governance” and “Clear Responsibility”.

During the debate, Tanel Talve (Social Democratic Party) and Arto Aas (Reform Party) took the floor.

43 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution, one was against, and there were two abstentions.

Two Bills passed the second reading:

The Bill on Amendments to the Citizen of the European Union Act and Other Acts (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union) (781 SE), initiated by the Government, regulates the conditions for residing in Estonia after Brexit for the citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members.

As it is still not yet clear whether the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on the basis of a withdrawal agreement or without an agreement, the Bill provides a solution for both cases in order to ensure the citizens of the United Kingdom residing in Estonia as smooth a transition as possible.

If Brexit takes place on the basis of a withdrawal agreement, the Bill will ensure the conditions for residing in Estonia laid down in the agreement to the citizens of the United Kingdom and their current and future family members who are residing in Estonia at present, as well those who will come to reside here during the up to two year transition period. This would mean that, throughout the transition period, European Union law will continue to apply to the citizens of the United Kingdom, and they will be able to continue residing in Estonia on the basis of the right of residence, without anything changing in two years. The citizens of the United Kingdom arriving in Estonia as of April 2021 would already fall within the scope of regulation of the Aliens Act, which means that they will need a residence permit for settling in Estonia like all other citizens of third countries.

If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without an agreement, the Aliens Act will immediately apply to the citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members already residing in Estonia. In such a case, under the Bill, they will be granted a temporary residence permit for settling permanently in Estonia, with the period of validity of up to five years, or a long-term resident’s residence permit, depending on whether they are residing in Estonia on the basis of a temporary or permanent right of residence at the Brexit moment. All citizens of the United Kingdom who wish to settle in Estonia after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union will have to apply for a residence permit like all other citizens of third countries.

The Bill on Amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (establishment of the procedure for declaration of enforceability of decisions of arbitral tribunals made in Estonia) (749 SE), initiated by the Government, will bring the regulation of arbitral tribunals into conformity with the practice of the Supreme Court. The main amendment is intended to harmonise the requirements for the recognition and declaration of enforceability of decisions of arbitral tribunals operating in Estonia. An obligation will be created under which the decisions of all arbitral tribunals operating in Estonia will have to be declared enforceable, except for the decisions made in the proceedings of the arbitral tribunal of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the arbitral tribunal of the Chamber of Notaries.

The Minister of Justice made a political statement on an analysis of the Constitution:

At the end of the plenary sitting of the Riigikogu, the Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu made a report. He presented the parliament with a summary of the report of the assembly of constitutional experts that had operated for one and a half year. The minister stressed four positions that had prevailed in the report: first, the fundamental principles of the Constitution must remain unchanged; second, it is important to expand the Estonian democracy in terms of constitutional law through new opportunities in the future; third, new fundamental rights and more effective protection of fundamental rights are needed in the constitutional order of Estonia; and fourth, the organisation of national defence should be more effective in the Constitution. Reinsalu said that the Ministry of Justice had made a selection from issues that could be additionally discussed in the future on the basis of the proposals of the assembly of constitutional experts. “It is fitting now that I hand this report over to the parliament about to end. However, the state will not come to a standstill, and, if necessary, the new parliament that will assume office soon will be able to weigh these proposals, whether in individual issues or as a whole, when it is necessary to solve practical issues facing the Estonian government,” Reinsalu said.

During the debate, Jüri Adams took the floor on behalf of the Free Party Faction. He had been one of the experts in the assembly of constitutional experts. Adams said that the report was not a generalisation, it was a mechanical compilation of the material written at the working meetings of the committee, and every proposal was a personal proposal from a specific committee member. “In my opinion, the only serious scientific research was the study by Märt Rask and his team on how to solve all the controversies that are connected with our relatively outdated chapter on national defence, because today’s national defence is not at all what it was at the times of President Päts and General Laidoner,” Adams said.

A Bill did not find support in the Riigikogu:

The Act on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act and Other Acts (merger of the Environmental Board and the Environmental Inspectorate) (789 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Andres Metsoja, Raivo Aeg, Tarmo Kruusimäe, Helir-Valdor Seeder, Priit Sibul, Aivar Kokk, Sven Sester, Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits, Maire Aunaste, Marko Pomerants, Mart Nutt, Valeri Korb, Jaanus Karilaid, Märt Sults, Inara Luigas and Tanel Talve, was intended to merge the Environmental Board and the Environmental Inspectorate, two governmental authorities in the area of government of the Ministry of Environment.

The initiators justified the merger of the Environmental Board and the Environmental Inspectorate with a more general principle of the state reform which was reduction of duplication in state offices, reduction of the number of administrative agencies and improvement of the quality and availability of public services.

According to the Bill, the aim of the merger of the Environmental Board and the Environmental Inspectorate was to enhance the implementation of the strategic tasks of the state in the environment sector, to use the existing resources more efficiently and effectively, and to offer high-quality public services and to also meet the expectations of society in a longer perspective.

Peeter Ernits took the floor during the debate.

39 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Bill, 16 were against, and there was one abstention. A majority vote of the members of the Riigikogu was needed for the Bill to be passed; thus the Bill was not supported.

Photos of the sitting.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Kristi Sobak
Phone +372 631 6592, +372 5190 6975
E-mail kristi.sobak@riigikogu.ee
Questions press@riigikogu.ee

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