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Today, the Riigikogu passed five Acts, and concluded the second reading of nineteen Bills and the first reading of a draft Resolution.

The Covered Bond Act (760 SE), initiated by the Government, creates the possibility for credit institutions to issue covered bonds, which is a special type of bond.

The Act creates a legally reliable environment in Estonia for credit institutions for issuing covered bonds and for the functioning of the covered bond market. The Act will develop the Estonian capital market and create a possibility to issue a new type of bonds and to invest in them. In addition, financial stability will be increased by establishing an additional instrument for engaging capital from money markets for Estonian credit institutions, and the Estonian credit market will be enhanced by increasing the opportunity for credit receivers (in particular, businesses) to also receive funding under the circumstances of a financial and economic crisis.

Covered bonds are guaranteed bonds issued by credit institutions, which are guaranteed by claims of “a high-quality bank” against borrowers which generally are claims arising from mortgage loans or loans granted to public sector. That is, put simpler, covered bonds are usually guaranteed by claims of credit institutions against recipients of real estate loans, in particular, housing loans, or against the state and local governments.

The provisions concerning the pledge of claims in the Law of Property Act do not apply to the guaranteeing of covered bonds; that is subject to a special procedure. This means above all that, in the event of failure of a credit institution (the issuer), collateral is separated and it is excluded from the bankruptcy estate of the credit institution. At the same time, collateral is above all intended to satisfy the claims of covered bond holders (investors). In addition, the issuing of covered bonds is accompanied by strengthened financial supervision of the credit institution which among other things is manifested in the obligation to apply for an additional authorisation.

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

The Act on Amendments to the Law of Ship Flag and Registers of Ships Act and Amendments to the Income Tax Act and Other Associated Acts (722 SE), initiated by the government, supports the Estonian maritime sector. Among other things, it sets a 0 per cent income tax rate for the remuneration of the staff of cargo vessels, and passenger ships operating internationally outside the European Union.

The purpose of the Act is to create more favourable conditions for bringing foreign ships in the Estonian register of bareboat chartered ships. As a result of that, the Estonian fleet will increase, which will contribute to the growth of the Estonian economy and the emergence of the shore sector. The tax revenues of the state will increase through the receipt of the registrar’s fees.

In addition, thanks to the amendment, the Estonian seafarers will have the possibility to conclude a voluntary contract with the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and thereby their access to health insurance will improve.

According to forecasts, the amendments could bring several hundred large seagoing vessels under the Estonian flag by 2025.

During the debate, Peeter Ernits, Krista Aru from the Free Party Faction, Sven Sester from the Faction Isamaa, Erki Savisaar from the Centre Party Faction and Jaanus Marrandi from the Social Democratic Party Faction took the floor.

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

The Act on Amendments to the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act (663 SE), initiated by the Estonian Free Party Faction, doubles the social benefits for children with a moderate or severe disability, and triples the allowance for a child with a profound disability, compared to the current rates.

The amount of the disabled children allowance is based on the social benefit rate which has not been changed since 2006. As a result of the new amendment, as of the new year, an allowance of 138 euro will be paid to children with a moderate disability, and 161 euro to children with a severe disability. An allowance of 241 euro will be paid to children with a profound disability.

The Act aims to increase disabled children’s benefits so that this would ensure independent subsistence to every person who needs help, support their social coping, and create equal opportunities for subsistence. The partial compensation of additional costs due to disability also facilitates studying and working, and helps implement the rehabilitation plan of the person who needs help.

Nearly 13 000 disabled children live in Estonia. The figure has nearly doubled compared to 2009. In 2017, the allowance for a child with a moderate disability was paid to 5000 children, the allowance for a child with a severe disability was paid to 7164 and the allowance for a child with a profound disability was paid to 732.

The Act enters into force on 1 January 2020.

During the debate, Andres Herkel from the Free Party Faction, Helmen Kütt from the Social Democratic Party Faction and Priit Sibul from the Faction Isamaa took the floor.

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

The Act on Amendments to the Imprisonment Act (680 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for allowing prisoners access to the websites of the Riigikogu and the Chancellor of Justice via computers specially adapted for that purpose and under the supervision of the prison authorities, but does not allow access to electronic communication. At present, prisoners are not allowed to use the Internet, but they do have access to the official databases of legislation and the database of judicial decisions under the supervision of the prison authorities.

The amendment is due to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Romeo Kalda vs Estonia, whereby a violation of Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was ascertained, as the prisoner had not been ensured access to the website of the Riigikogu, the website of the Chancellor of Justice and the website of the Council of Europe Information Office in Tallinn (the latter no longer exists). The amendments ensure prisoners access to the website of the Riigikogu and the Chancellor of Justice. At the same time, access to the parts of websites that allow electronic communication is prohibited.

The Act also amends the provisions concerning responding to emergencies in prisons, and the competence of the prison service in resolution of events that may endanger the security or order in the prison.

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

The Act on Amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (799 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction and the Government, gives schools the possibility to impose sanctions on students who carry items or substances that are prohibited in school.

In order to ensure security, prevent situations of danger and intervene where necessary, the Act provides for a list of items and substances prohibited for students in school, and regulates the seizure and depositing of prohibited items.

The Act allows to check, in case of justified doubt, items used by the student, including his or her clothes, and the locker used by him or her.

The Act provides for limits to the seizure of prohibited items, but it is intended to be applied in situations where other measures are insufficient. It is possible to seize a prohibited item or substance from a student, and search for such items and substances against his or her will only in the event of an immediate threat to life, health or another person’s item. According to the Act, the person who applies the sanction to be established must have the training necessary therefor.

During the debate, Jürgen Ligi from the Reform Party Faction and Krista Aru from the Free Party Faction took the floor.

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

Nineteen Bills passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:

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.

During the second reading, the state fee rates were amended. According to the Bill, the state fee is planned to be uniform for conformity supervision operations regarding every fertilizer entered in the register of fertilisers. With an amendment, different state fees will be charged for the handling of fertilisers packaged in small packaging (up to 25 kg or 25 litres), and fertilisers packaged in larger packaging and loose fertilisers. The due date for payment of the state fee and the date of entry into force of the Act will also be changed, and the Bill will be amended by adding a transitional provision in connection with these dates. These amendments will ensure a smooth transition to the new state fee system.

 The Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Defence Forces Organisation Act (783 SE), initiated by the Security Authorities Surveillance Select Committee, will extend 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 Bill, the Defence Forces will be 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 Bill will give 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.

Hanno Pevkur from the Reform Party Faction took the floor during the debate.

The Bill 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, will update the Act, reduce the functions of the state, and increase the producers’ own responsibility.

The Bill will simplify 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 provided for in the Bill 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 provided for in the Bill 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 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 change the situation on the Estonian market for the better and to raise productivity, it is necessary to amend the provisions on the scope of plant variety rights with the Bill.

The Bill will increase the amounts of the state fees relating to 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 Bill, or who avail themselves of the services of persons who hold a relevant activity permit, will be exempt from payment of state fee.

During the second reading of the Bill, several motions to amend specifying the text of the Bill were made. Among other things, the establishment of a system of notification for collecting data on varieties and seeds used in agricultural production is provided for.

The Bill on Amendments to the Industrial Emissions Act and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (736 SE), initiated by the Government, will specify the provisions of the current Act and eliminate conflicts with EU law that the European Commission has pointed out. The amendments are primarily of a technical nature: the wording of provisions will be improved, a more uniform system of concepts will be used, and the requirements for the submission and disclosure of the special environmental inspection report will be specified. The Bill 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 Bill 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 as compared to the requirement established in current law.

Three motions to amend the Bill were submitted during the second reading. One motion to amend aims to amend the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act. The reason for the amendment is that 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 as input for 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 %.

Peeter Ernits took the floor during the debate.

The International Sanctions Bill (721 SE), initiated by the Government, will update and organise the International Sanctions Act. The Bill of the consolidated text of the new International Sanctions Act has four main aims: to correct the distribution of competence in the national implementation of international sanctions so that it would be in conformity with developed sanction regimes; to add 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; to update the special regulation of financial sanction and to amend the Penal Code so that it would allow for more efficient proceedings on violations of sanctions.

The new Act will have a positive impact on the foreign relations of Estonia, as it will help perform the obligation of Estonia to impose international sanctions without delay and correctly, arising from international and EU law. The updated regulation will also have a positive national impact, as the obligations relating to the imposition of the sanction will become more understandable to both the public and the private sector.

The Bill on Amendments to the Trade Marks Act, the Industrial Design Protection Act and Other Acts (765 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, will confer 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 will be provided for. The amendments will 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 will be maintained for sworn advocates.

The explanatory memorandum to the Bill on Amendments to the Traffic Act (752 SE), initiated by the Legal Affairs Committee, notes that the provisions of the current regulation of speed cameras have not allowed for implementation of portable speed cameras so far. Although under the Traffic Act traffic supervision may be exercised with portable or fixed technical equipment, subsections of the same section in the Act provide for the possibility of using only fixed equipment in the case of the automatic traffic supervision system.

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 will not change the current legal order, that is, the outcome will be the same for persons. However, the aim is to enable the persons exercising traffic supervision to influence a significantly greater number of people also in regions where it was impossible earlier.

The aim of the installation of portable speed cameras is to calm traffic and thereby to reduce the number of accidents.

Before the second reading, a motion to amend the Bill was submitted which aimed to amend the Bill by including two provisions in the Traffic Act to regulate a situation where a roadworthiness test on a power-driven vehicle and its trailer registered in the Estonian motor register is carried out in another European Union Member State and the results are also valid in Estonia. The aim of the amendment is to allow 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 will have to be carried out in accordance with requirements equivalent to those provided for in the Traffic Act and legislation established on the basis thereof. Observance of the requirements will be ensured with the fact that definite persons who will be allowed to carry out roadworthiness tests on vehicles registered in the motor register will be defined in cooperation agreements. Before the conclusion of a relevant cooperation agreement, the Road Administration will evaluate the relevant requirements of the respective country and, if necessary, carry out a thorough training and instruction of the persons designated in the cooperation agreement. Thus, no changes regarding the carrying out of roadworthiness tests would be involved for the owner or authorised user of a vehicle or the person who submits a vehicle to a roadworthiness test. As a positive impact of the amendment, the competitiveness of transport companies will increase as they will have the possibility to have roadworthiness tests on their vehicle fleet to be carried out outside Estonia.

The Personal Data Protection Act Implementation Bill (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 Bill provides for the precise purposes of and bases for personal data processing, and the permitted scope of personal data processing.

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

The Bill will update the regulations concerning databases – the purposes of processing of personal data and the compositions of data will be amended, and the period of preservation of data will also be limited. The establishment of the statutes of databases has been transferred from the Government level to the competence of ministers where possible.

Jüri Saar from the Free Party Faction took the floor during the debate.

The Free Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 11 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 32 were against. The motion was not supported and thus the second reading of the Bill was concluded.

Under the Bill 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 will fall within the competence of the Board of the Riigikogu.

In addition, the work arrangements of the plenary assembly will be 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, the Bill will allow for replies to interpellations and readings of draft legislation on all sitting days. A time restriction will be imposed on Monday’s sitting.

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 will be specified. Amendments concerning the rules of legislative drafting will also be made.

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

During the second reading, several motions to amend the Bill were submitted. One amendment aims to extend the Question Time of the Riigikogu by one hour by bringing it forward. In addition, another amendment provides that, in Question Time, two minutes will be allotted for putting a question, instead of the current one minute, and three minutes will be allotted for replying, instead of two minutes.

Andres Herkel from the Free Party Faction took the floor during the debate.

The Bill on Amendments to the Official Statistics Act and the Public Information Act (794 SE), initiated by the Government, will regulate data management that provides for specific rules with which data in databases and data management must comply. Coordination of data management will be given to Statistics Estonia. At present, no uniform rules of national data management have been agreed on, and therefore it is also impossible to implement the ‘once-only’ principle. Nor does current law provide a regulation as to who should coordinate data management at national level. The Bill will include in the Public Information Act data dissemination service that will enable linking of different data sources and processing of data for scientific or statistical purposes in the future. With the amendments, it will be possible 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.

Between the first and second reading, two motions to amend the Bill were submitted, with similar content. The amendment aims to provide for the ‘once-only’ principle when collecting data into a database. The principle is necessary 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. Therefore it is reasonable to include the in the Act the principle that the ‘once-only’ principle is adhered to when collecting data into a database.

The Bill on Amendments to the Accounting Act (795 SE), initiated by the Government, will make 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.

Two motions to amend the Bill were submitted in the course of the second reading. One motion to amend will specify the text of the Bill to provide that, in the case of a state accounting entity, local authority, legal person in public law or accounting entity over which the abovementioned persons have dominant influence directly or indirectly or who is a contracting authority or entity within the meaning of § 5 of the Public Procurement Act, only accounting entities will have to submit electronic invoices.

The Republic of Estonia as a legal person in public law, local authorities, all legal persons in private or public law registered in Estonia, sole proprietors, and branches of foreign companies registered in Estonia are accounting entities. Under this specification, foreign undertakings would not have the obligation to submit electronic invoices. This is necessary because there may not be equally good possibilities to send electronic invoices in other countries, and therefore it is not reasonable to require electronic invoices from them.

The Bill 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, will transpose the relevant directive harmonising trade mark law in EU Member States. The requirement that signs protected as trade marks must be capable of being represented graphically will be eliminated from the current law. 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 Bill will simplify 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. Under the current law, each trade mark must be capable of being represented graphically. Under the current law, in the course of registration of a trade mark, the Estonian Patent Office verifies that there are no absolute (e.g. the sign is not distinctive or it is only descriptive) or relative (e.g. the existence of an earlier confusingly similar trade mark) grounds for refusal which preclude registration of the trade mark. According to the Bill, in the future, the Estonian Patent Office will no longer examine relative grounds for refusal. 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. Since the directive requires that the board be located at the central industrial property office of the Member 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 will be amended. A board consisting of two permanent members will be provided for, instead of the current eight-member board. Similarly to the current system, also in the future, the board will settle disputes in a three-member panel, involving in its membership an additional member or members as experts in the relevant field. Under the Bill, the competence of the board will also be extended. In addition to the appeals against decisions from the Estonian Patent Office, and notices of opposition of trade marks, the board will also 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. According to the Bill, measures to make the board’s proceedings quicker and more efficient will also be provided for.

The Bill on Amendments to the Ports Act and the Liquid Fuel Act (780 SE), initiated by the Government, will implement the EU 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 Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council enters into force on 24 March 2019.

Based on the Regulation, the requirements for managing bodies of the ports for consultation of port users and stakeholders will be included in the Ports Act. The stakeholders will have to be consulted in the cases when changes are planned in the matters specified in Article 15 of Regulation (EU) 2017/352. The Bill designates the Competition Authority to resolve complaints due to application of the Regulation. It 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 Bill will also introduce an amendment to the Liquid Fuel Act. Inasmuch as, 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 Bill will correct the error that has occurred.

Arto Aas from the Reform Party Faction took the floor during the debate.

The aim of the Heritage Conservation Bill (684 SE), initiated by the Government, is to balance the rights and duties of the state and those of the owners of monuments. The Bill stresses that the preservation and valuing of cultural heritage is a common duty of society.

For that, the state will take 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 Bill sets out that, when changes are made to historical environment, the special needs of disabled people will have to 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.

Various provisions stress 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 (some works and studies), the current obligation to apply for an activity licence is omitted and it is replaced by a notification obligation.

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

The Act is to enter into force on 1 May 2019.

During the debate, Yoko Alender from the Reform Party Faction, Jüri Jaanson from the Reform Party Faction, Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits from the Faction Isamaa and Krista Aru from the Free Party Faction took the floor.

The Faction Isamaa moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 14 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 30 were against. The motion was not supported and thus the second reading of the Bill was concluded.

The Higher Education Bill (725 SE), initiated by the Government, will organise and simplify the regulations relating to higher education. The Bill will increase flexibility both for students and institutions of higher education, facilitate cooperation between institutions of higher education, strengthen the links between universities and society, and enable to shape a career model that is attractive to academic workers.

The Bill will not change the fundamentals of the higher education system, like tuition-free studies, extensive autonomy of institutions of higher education and the three-tier higher education studies.

The Bill will create the regulation of the post of academic worker which will enable to create clear career models in institutions of higher education and research institutions. The Bill points out that, as a general rule, the expected educational requirement for workers in the highest posts (professor, research fellow) is a Doctoral level degree. In addition, the duration of the holiday of academic workers (42 or 56 days, as a general rule) will also be specified, and the rules for awarding the title of “emeritus” will be organised.

The Act is to enter into force on 1 September 2019.

Krista Aru from the Free Party Faction took the floor during the debate.

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

The Bill will provide 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 Bill will update the management structure of the University. It provides that the Council, the Senate and the Rector are the managing bodies of the University.

Under the Bill, 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. Under the regulation of the current Universities Act, the Council is the academic decision-making body which does not involve external members, and members from outside the university are included in the Board of Governors whose membership is determined by the Government.

The Bill 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 will not be changed. Compared to the current law, the Bill 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 the Bill, legal persons in private law founded by the University will not be entitled to found private schools or research and development institutions in private law.

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

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

The Bill provides for the area of responsibility of the University in the areas relating to the development of rural life and the rural economy. The Bill will update the management structure of the University by providing that the University is managed by the Council, the Senate and the Rector. Under the Bill, 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. Under the regulation of the current Universities Act, the Council is the academic decision-making body which does not involve external members, and members from outside the university are included in the Board of Governors whose membership is determined by the Government. The Bill 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 will not be changed. Compared to the current law, the Bill 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 the Bill, legal persons in private law founded by the University will not be entitled to found private schools or research and development institutions in private law.

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

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

The Bill 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 Bill will update the management structure of the Academy by providing that the Council, the Senate and the Rector are the managing bodies of the Academy. Under the Bill, 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. Under the regulation of the current Universities Act, the Council is the academic decision-making body which does not involve external members, and members from outside the university are included in the Board of Governors whose membership is determined by the Government.

The Bill 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 will not be changed. Compared to the current law, the Bill 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 the Bill, legal persons in private law founded by the Academy will not be entitled to found private schools or research and development institutions in private law.

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

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

The Bill 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 Bill will update the management structure of the Academy by providing that the Council, the Senate and the Rector are the managing bodies of the Academy. Under the Bill, 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. Under the regulation of the current Universities Act, the Council is the academic decision-making body which does not involve external members, and members from outside the university are included in the Board of Governors whose membership is determined by the Government. The Bill 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 will not be changed. Compared to the current law, the Bill 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 the Bill, legal persons in private law founded by the Academy will not be entitled to found private schools or research and development institutions in private law.

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

One draft Resolution passed the first reading in the Riigikogu:

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Holding a Referendum on the Issue of Participation in the UN’s Global Compact for Migration” (764 OE), submitted by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, aims to hold a referendum on the issue of participation in the UN’s Global Compact for Migration.

During the debate, Martin Helme from the Conservative People’s Party Faction and Oudekki Loone from the Centre Party Faction took the floor.

The lead committee moved to reject the draft Resolution at the first reading. 14 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 14 were against. The motion was not supported and the draft Resolution passed the first reading.

The second reading of a Bill was suspended:

The Bill on Amendments to the Tobacco Act and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (775 SE), initiated by the Government, will transpose two articles of the EU Tobacco Directive, on the basis of which a European-wide tracking and tracing system for tobacco products will be implemented as of 20 May 2019. The purpose of the system is to provide the Member States and the Commission with an effective tool for fighting illicit trade in tobacco products.

During the debate, Toomas Kivimägi from the Reform Party Faction, Aadu Must from the Centre Party Faction, Andres Metsoja from the Faction Isamaa, Madis Milling from the Reform Party Faction, Tarmo Kruusimäe from the Faction Isamaa, Eiki Nestor from the Social Democratic Party Faction and Helmen Kütt from the Social Democratic Party Faction took the floor.

Several motions to amend the Bill were submitted during the second reading, and they were voted on at the plenary sitting. After the voting, the initiator of the Bill moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. Since the motion came from the initiator of the Bill, no voting was held. Thus, the second reading of the Bill was suspended.

The deadline for motions to amend is 27 February at 5.15 p.m.

A Bill was dropped from the proceedings of the Riigikogu:

The Bill on Amendments to the Value-Added Tax Act (763 SE), initiated by the Estonian Free Party Faction, proposed to provide that, for small businesses with up to ten employees and a turnover of up to 200,000 euro a year, the VAT period would be one year. For small businesses with up to ten employees and a turnover of 200,000–2,000,000 euro a year, the VAT period would have extended to up to three months. As a justification, it was pointed out that a longer VAT period would reduce the administrative burden for small businesses and the Tax and Customs Board.

The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 45 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion, 12 were against, and there was one abstention. Thus, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceedings.

The sitting ended at 12.04 a.m.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian) http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/en/201902131400.

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
Marie Kukk
+372 631 6456; +372 5821 3309
marie.kukk@riigikogu.ee
Questions: press@riigikogu.ee

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