The Riigikogu passed four Acts, including an Act which extends the validity of the Mobile-ID to five years instead of the current three years. It will enter into force as of 1 January next year.
The Government will have the right to establish by a Regulation the details of the issuing of the digital identity card in Mobile ID format. So the Government may establish a period of validity of the Mobile ID shorter than five years for example when the technical solution of the document medium does not meet the requirements that are necessary for secure use of the document during five years. Also, the Government can extend the validity if the security of the technical solution changes and it enables the use of the Mobile ID for a longer period than the initial estimation. These provisions will enter into force as of 1 May this year.
With the Act on Amendments to the Identity Documents Act, the State Fees Act and the State Borders Act (550 SE), passed in the Riigikogu on Thursday, the period of validity of the digital identity card in Mobile ID format will be extended to five years instead of the current three years. It also provides that an Estonian citizen who resides or stays in a foreign country has the possibility to apply for an Estonian citizen’s passport without fingerprints. The new regulation simplifies the possibilities of Estonian citizens who reside or stay in a foreign country to apply for a travel document.
84 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passing of the Act.
The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Commercial Code and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (549 SE). The Act simplifies the winding up of private limited liability companies and public limited liability companies. According to the new procedure, it is possible to merge the assets of a company with the assets of a natural person in the case when the natural person is the sole shareholder of the private limited liability company or public limited liability company. In such a case, the assets of the company are transferred to the natural person by way of universal succession. The selling and separate transfer of individual rights and obligations which form part of the assets of the company is not necessary. In that case, the private limited liability company or public limited liability company does not have to go into liquidation. It may be replaced by merger proceedings which is faster. At the same time, a merger results in unlimited personal liability of a natural person for the obligations of the company being acquired. The Act also brings the Commercial Code into conformity with the EU directive concerning mergers of public limited liability companies.
85 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passing of the Act.
The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Liquid Fuel Act (491 SE) which provides taxes on fuels, including liquid combustible substance, according to the purpose of use. For this purpose, the rights of the tax authority are extended so that it would be possible to seize fuel and ask for an excise security, as necessary. A wider purpose is to ensure equal competition for all fuel market participants and increase tax receipt.
81 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passing of the Act.
The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Public Transport Act (499 SE). According to it, when organising carriage of passengers by bus, the relevant European Union Regulation concerning the rights of passengers in bus and coach transport must also be followed, besides the Public Transport Act. This Regulation concerns only international regular services. The provisions which apply where the distance of the service is shorter, including domestic regular services, regulate primarily the issues relating to disabled persons as well as the obtaining of information and the resolution of complaints.
60 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passing of the Act and one was against.
The Act introduces into the Public Transport Act amendments arising from a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council. The Regulation applies in the case of regular services where the scheduled distance of the service is 250 km or more, but the Regulation contains provisions which apply also where the distance of the service is shorter than 250 km.
The Regulation mostly regulates non-permissiveness of discriminatory contract conditions, compensation and assistance in the event of an accident, the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, the rights of passengers in the event of cancellation or delay in departure of a regular service, and the provision of information and the resolution of complaints.
For example, carriers, travel agents and tour operators may not refuse to accept a reservation from, to issue or otherwise provide a ticket to, or to take on board, a person on the grounds of disability or of reduced mobility. Reservations and tickets shall be offered to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility at no additional cost.
According to the Act, carriers and terminal managing bodies shall be liable where they have caused loss of or damage to wheelchairs, other mobility equipment or assistive devices. The loss or damage shall be compensated by the carrier or terminal managing body liable for that loss or damage. At the same time, the obligation to compensate for damage incurred is also regulated by the Law of Obligations Act and thus it is not essentially a new provision.
The Act also provides for transmission of adequately appropriate and comprehensible information to disabled persons, and provides for the requirement to establish a mechanism for the resolution of the complaints by disabled persons. Carriers and, where appropriate, terminal managing bodies must provide trainings to personnel who deal with disabled persons.
The Act grants the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications the provision delegating authority to designate bus and coach terminals where assistance for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility shall be provided. As, according to the Regulation, the distance of the service is 250 km or more, such services are generally international, and it is logical that the designated bus and coach terminals are not only terminals servicing domestic regular lines.
At such terminals, carriers and terminal managing bodies are required to provide assistance free of charge to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility. They must enable disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility to communicate their arrival at the terminal and their request for assistance at designated points, move from the designated point to the check-in counter, waiting room and embarkation area, and board the vehicle, with the provision of lifts, wheelchairs or other assistance needed, as appropriate. Assistance must enable disabled persons to load and retrieve their luggage, alight from the vehicle and carry a recognised assistance dog on board a bus or coach. Carriers must also provide assistance to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility on board a bus or coach.
In addition, the Act provides that, in railway traffic, a competent authority may award a public service contract directly, on the basis of the relevant Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council.
As the final item on the agenda of the sitting, the deliberation of foreign policy was held. Reports were by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet and the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Marko Mihkelson.
In his speech, Paet focused on the issues of security and he also spoke of the expansion of NATO. Paet also focused on the issues of the Eastern Partnership and Ukraine, but he also spoke of the crises in the Central African Republic and Syria. Paet said that Estonian-Russian relations are businesslike. “But there are areas where they could be significantly better. For example, trade restrictions are unfortunately a movement against other developments. All parties would benefit from the opposite behaviour,” Paet noted.
When speaking of the European Union, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that there are a number of things in the European Union that can and should be done immediately, and do not require any significant changes in agreements. “The free movement of services, a common digital market, and more coherent foreign, security and energy policies are a few examples of areas that have considerable room for improvement,” Paet specified. Paet also spoke of foreign trade and e-services.
Mihkelson said at the discussion of foreign policy in the Riigikogu on Thursday that the two main strategic objectives of Estonia’s foreign policy during the next decade are a stronger security environment and the competitiveness of the state. In addition, Mihkelson proposed creating a portfolio of foreign trade minister after the parliamentary elections next year. The minister would commit one hundred percent on strengthening Estonia’s positions on foreign markets as the leader of “Team Estonia”. The model for this comes from Finland.
“The coming years will be very important in expanding the Nordic security cooperation, integrating the Eastern Partnership countries with the Euro-Atlantic space and increasing the collective defence capacity of NATO, especially after the end of the Afghanistan mission,” Mihkelson said.
Another very important strategic aim in the coming years, in Mihkelson’s words, is to increase the international competitiveness of Estonia.
Mihkelson found that, during the last years, foreign economic policy has been one of the priority keywords in the activities of our government, but so far the coordination between different ministries and agencies has been insufficient. In his speech, he proposed the idea of forming the Foreign Trade Committee, which would be used like the Security Committee for better coordination of the work of the government.
In his speech, Mihkelson also touched upon the Estonia-Russia border treaty, the issues relating to Ukraine, and the Eastern Partnership.
The first debate of foreign policy was held in the Riigikogu exactly 20 years ago, on 17 February 1994.
Enn Eesmaa, Margus Hanson, Sven Mikser, Mart Nutt and Andres Herkel took the floor during the debate.
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