At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu approved the Act under which language training will be provided to aliens who reside here and wish to apply for Estonian citizenship.
Under the Act on Amendments to the Citizenship Act (629 SE), initiated by the Government, the language training is free for the aliens, and the government is ready to pay compensation to them for the time they are on an unpaid study leave for language training by agreement with their employers.
In the future, the state will provide the possibility of entering into a language training contract for people who have lawfully resided in Estonia for at least five years, and who meet the requirements for applying for citizenship and who wish to apply for Estonian citizenship. According to the contract, people who enter into the contract will be provided a one-off free Estonian language training course from zero level to the level of independent language user B1.
The contract will be deemed to be fulfilled when the person submits an application for acquisition of citizenship to the Police and Border Guard Board. For participation in the Estonian language courses, persons who enter into the contract will be paid a language training allowance during the days of study leave on the basis of their average salary for 20 calendar days for the times they participate in the language training courses. The Estonian Academy of Security Services will organise the language training.
Conclusion of language training contracts will start as of next January. A total of 3.7 million euro will be allocated for language training expenses for the next three years.
Proficiency in the Estonian language at B1 level is required for obtaining Estonian citizenship. An alien who has resided in Estonia for at least eight years, and who meets the conditions provided by law, can apply for citizenship.
During the debate, Hanno Pevkur from the Reform Party Faction, Oudekki Loone from the Centre Party Faction and Jevgeni Ossinovski from the Social Democratic Party Faction took the floor.
62 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and one was against.
Eight Bills passed the first reading in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on the Ratification of the Protocols relating to Amendments to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (622 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for the ratification of the amendments of 2016 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which increase the membership the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Air Navigation Commission established by the Convention, because the number of Contracting States has increased over the last 25 years.
The Convention on International Civil Aviation was created on 7 December 1944 with the aim of directing technological development for the purposes of overall safety of air navigation. Estonia acceded to the Convention by a 1992 Resolution of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia. The ICAO Council is a permanent body of the Convention, and its members are elected for a three-year term from among the member states. The obligations of the Council include carrying out the directions of the Assembly and discharging the duties which are laid on it by the Convention, administration of the finances, as well as the establishment of an Air Navigation Commission. The ICAO Air Navigation Commission considers and submits to the Council proposals for the adoption of recommended practices and air navigation rules. The implementation of the Act will not involve state budget expenses. The Protocols come into force in respect of the States which have ratified it after 128 states will have ratified them.
The Bill on the Ratification of the Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of Estonia, the Government of the Republic of Latvia and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on Mutual Assistance and Cooperation in the Field of Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and Response (625 SE), initiated by the Government.
The Agreement was signed by Andres Anvelt for the Government of the Republic of Estonia, Rihards Kozlovskis for the Government of the Republic of Latvia, and Eimutis Misiūnas for the Government of the Republic of Lithuania in Vilnius 23 November 2017.
The Agreement helps enhance the cooperation of the three Baltic countries in the field of rescue services in the protection of population and in crisis management with a view to increasing the security in the region. So far, agreements on cooperation and mutual assistance in disasters have been entered into between Estonia and Latvia, and Lithuania and Latvia, but there has been no agreement involving all three Baltic countries. The scope of the Agreement includes disasters in the field of rescue services which may exceed the capacity of national resources of a country and its capability to handle the disaster. The Agreement does not apply to the events of accidents occurring in sea waters under the jurisdiction of the states of the Parties.
The aim of the Agreement is to establish a general procedure under which the three Baltic countries can organise cooperation in the field of rescue services in disaster. To receive assistance, the requesting Party has to issue a request for assistance indicating the scope and type of assistance requested to a point of contact. The Party, to whom the request for assistance is directed, shall promptly decide whether it is in a position to render assistance.
As a general rule, the assisting Party bears the costs related to rendering of assistance. Depending on the event and the nature of rendering assistance, competent authorities may decide that for example costs of the exploitation of equipment, costs of medical assistance, and insurance costs are reimbursed. The costs related to the use of aircraft are also divided equally between the assisting Party and the requesting Party. Under the Agreement, the personnel from the assisting Party serve in accordance with the law of their own state.
The Bill on Amendments to the Fertilisers Act and the State Fees Act (639 SE), initiated by the Government, will simplify and lower the cost of registration of fertilizers. For example, the placing on the Estonian market of new fertilizers that are sold in small quantities will become more favourable. One aim of the Bill is to ensure efficient supervision of fertilizers marked “EC fertilizer” in the domestic market. The state fee system will also be simplified. Instead of the current five state fees, one fee will have to be paid in the future. In addition, smaller specifications will be made.
In the future, all handlers of fertilizers operating in Estonia, including distributors of products marked “EC fertilizer”, will have to submit a notice of economic activities on the basis of which the handler and the fertilizer sold by the handler will be entered into the register. This will allow to obtain actual and up-to-date data on the Estonian fertilizer market from the fertilizer register. At present, there is no overview of products marked “EC fertilizer” which complicates supervision. The Agricultural Board is notified when the handling of a marked fertilizer is begun, but there is no information as to for how long the fertilizer remains on the market.
According to the Bill, in the future, a 65-euro state fee will be paid annually once a year on the basis of the designation. No other fees will be added. Under the current Act, the state fee is paid annually twice a year on the basis of the quantity marketed. Besides, under the Bill, the fees for entering a fertilizer in the register of fertilizers, for the amendment of a register entry and for certified extracts will be eliminated. Thus the calculation of state fees will become significantly simpler. At the same time, the tax burden will remain at the same level.
The Bill on Amendments to the Act on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Precursors thereof (640 SE), initiated by the Government, will transpose the relevant EU Directive laying down the conditions for including new psychoactive substances in the definition of ‘drug’. As the requirements of the directive have been transposed into Estonian law earlier, the amendment will not affect our current situation.
Estonia continues to include psychoactive substances in the schedule of narcotic drugs faster than it is done at European level. In the Act, the outdated reference to the Council Decision that has been repealed by the directive will simply have to be replaced. In addition, references to the EU legislation regulating drug precursors will be replaced and amended in the Act.
The Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code and Other Associated Acts (transposition of the directive on combating terrorism) (642 SE), initiated by the Government, will make amendments to the Penal Code, the Victim Support Act, the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act and the State Legal Aid Act. The aim of the Bill is to combat the increasing international terrorist threat. For that, the relevant EU directive will be transposed into national law, and conformity of Estonian law with the UN Resolution and the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism will be ensured.
On the basis of international requirements, the Bill will criminalise training for terrorism, travelling for such purpose, and the carrying out, funding and supporting of terrorism. Besides other victim support services, the provision of necessary psychological assistance will be ensured to victims of terrorism. The service will be ensured both to persons who have suffered as a result of an act committed in Estonia, and residents of the Republic of Estonia who have suffered as a result of terrorism abroad. Victims of terrorist offences will be ensured state legal aid in criminal proceedings regardless of their economic situation.
In addition, amendments will be made to the Penal Code that will specify and amend the necessary elements of criminal offences against the security, independence or territorial integrity of the Republic of Estonia. Liability of legal persons will also be established for all offences against the Republic of Estonia, because there is no reason for a specification. To avoid legal gaps, intelligence activities directed against the security of the Republic of Estonia, and supporting such activities, by an intelligence or security service official of a foreign state will be provided for as a separate criminal offence. The necessary elements of the criminal offences of the establishment or maintenance of a relationship that is against the Republic of Estonia, and anti-state influencing of officials will also be specified.
The Bill on Amendments to the General Part of the Civil Code Act and the Law of Obligations Act, the General Part of the Civil Code Act and the Private International Law Act Implementation Act (627 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the limitation period for certain civil law claims recognised by a court decision or another enforcement instrument. At present, all civil law claims recognised by an enforcement instrument expire within a term of ten years.
The Bill provides that the limitation period for claims arising from unlawfully caused damage and claims ordered on the basis of a civil action filed within the framework of criminal proceedings will extend from ten years to twenty years. For example, if a compensation for causing bodily injury is imposed to the benefit of the victim by a court judgment, then in the future the limitation period for such a claim will be twenty years instead of ten years. The aim of the amendment is to improve the legal position of obligee.
In the case of other civil law claims, for example, a claim for payment of purchase price arising from a contract of sale or a claim arising from a loan agreement, the limitation period will be ten years.
Jüri Adams from the Free Party Faction took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the Environmental Charges Act (645 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the principles for calculating the oil shale extraction charge in the Environmental Charges Act. The extraction charge for oil shale as an energy mineral resource belonging to the state is established based on the state’s goal of earning revenue and on the added value generated by oil shale. In view of that, with the amendments to the Environmental Charges Act, a new maximum extraction charge rate and the bases for the formation of the oil shale extraction charge rate will be established based on the value created by oil shale.
The proceedings on the Bill are intended to be conducted as a matter of urgency in order that the new oil shale extraction charge system could enter into force as of 1 January 2019 and it could be included in the proceedings on the state budget strategy for 2019–2022 and be taken as a basis already when drafting the 2019 State Budget Act.
The Bill on the Accession to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity (644 SE), initiated by the Government.
With the accession to the Nagoya Protocol, Estonia will contribute above all to the protection of the world’s biological diversity and the fair sharing of benefits arising from its utilisation. Most of the world’s biodiversity is located in developing countries.
National provisions for the implementation of the Protocol have been put in place. It is necessary to adopt the Act on the accession because the Protocol supplements the Convention on Biological Diversity which Estonia has ratified. In connection with becoming a Party to the Nagoya Protocol, it will be mandatory for Estonia to make milestone payments into the main budget of the Convention, and to participate in the meetings of the Parties to the Protocol. These costs will be met from the budget of the Ministry of the Environment. There are 105 Parties to the Protocol today. The European Union approved the Protocol in 2014. Estonia transposed the relevant provisions by the Nature Conservation Act which entered into force in 2017.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/en/201809121400.
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.)
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