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At today’s sitting, the Minister of Culture Indrek Saar gave the Riigikogu an overview of the implementation of the fundamentals of the sports policy. He said that although there had been drawbacks regarding some indicators in some years, the general trend had been upwards. However, in his words, a change was needed with regard to the exercise habit of children and the supporting of young talented athletes.

When summarising the report, the Minister of Culture pointed out that, among other things, an increase would be seen in subsidies to sports federations, the numbers of participants and medals, the revenues of sports clubs and organisations, the labour taxes paid, the state and local government investments into sports facilities, the number of sports facilities, as well as subsidies to organisers.

Saar said that the most complicated task had been to make the system for funding sports more transparent, fairer and clearer. “Your decision to terminate the activities of the Gambling Tax Council as of next year will also improve the clarity of the funding system,” Saar said. When speaking of concerns that had been resolved, the minister said that the leagues who made it to the final tournaments could apply for support from the state budget to represent Estonia, a measure to support international events had been created, and the remunerations of coaches and referees would increase.

When speaking of challenges, Saar pointed out that the fundamentals of the sports policy set the target that by 2030 at least 2/3 of the population would exercise. “In order to achieve the target, we must focus even more on young people and children. Insufficient exercise habits in childhood are indeed very strongly correlated with an inactive lifestyle in adulthood,” Saar stressed. In order to achieve this target, the minister proposed that the realisation of the ideas of the programme “Schools in Motion”, initiated by the research group of physical activity for health at the University of Tartu, should be set as a common priority.

As another challenge, Saar spoke of supporting young athletes with high potential. For that purpose, the minister said, a new initiative under the working title “Team Estonia” had been decided to be launched in cooperation with the Estonian Olympic Committee. “We have found funds to the extent of eight million euro to launch “Team Estonia” for the next four years,” Saar said. In his words, the development of talented young athletes can be supported based on their needs through this funding model. “The aim is to ensure the training and competition conditions at the same level as those of the competitors in other countries who aspire to medals,” Saar said.

Besides that, the minister underlined that the attitudes of society, the living environment and the sports infrastructure must ensure that it would be possible for persons with special needs to be even more physically active.

During the debate, Jüri Jaanson from the Reform Party Faction, Dmitri Dmitrijev from the Centre Party Faction and Monika Haukanõmm took the floor.

The Riigikogu passed seven Acts and a Resolution:

The Act on Amendments to the Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act (720 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for a provision delegating authority that gives the minister responsible for the field the possibility to provide that, in the future, applications, payment applications and other documents are to be submitted only electronically via the e-service environment.

The amendment is necessary in order that in the future, if necessary, it would be possible to fully transfer to using the electronic system of the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board in respect of the supports granted under the Rural Development and Agricultural Market Regulation Act. Although it has been possible to submit an application electronically already earlier, there has been no possibility to transfer to exclusively electronic application. The purpose of the transfer to the electronic system of the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board is to simplify the submission of applications and to shorten the proceedings. The amendment does not mean that, in the future, only the electronic system of the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board will have to be used in all support measures, but it will give the minister responsible for the field the right to consider this option separately for each support measure.

In addition, the Act organises and specifies the provision concerning the determination of the support to be granted in a budgetary year and the funds designated for granting the support.

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

The Act on Amendments to the Health Services Organisation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (698 SE), initiated by the Government, provides that the obligation to pay a fee for emergency care, and for health services related to the protection of public health as specified in a Regulation of the Minister of Health and Labour, provided to persons not covered by health insurance be transferred to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.

The Act provides that the obligation to pay for health services be transferred to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund which arises from the health care funding decisions made in 2017 and the legislative amendments adopted in the Riigikogu in December 2017. The transfer has already been taken into account in the calculation of the state budget allocation to be received in the budget of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.

Due to changes to the financing procedure, the Procurement, Handling and Transplantation of Cells, Tissues and Organs Act, the Mental Health Act and the Establishment of Cause of Death Act were also amended in regard to the health services that so far had also been compensated to uninsured persons from the state budget under the contract between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.

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

Under the Act on Amendments to the Health Services Organisation Act and the Health Insurance Act (626 SE), initiated by the Government, doctors, dental practitioners, nurses and midwives from third countries must pass a compliance examination consisting of a work practice and a theory examination in Estonian before they are authorised to work as healthcare professionals in Estonia.

The Act provides for the procedure for better checking the qualification requirements of doctors, dental practitioners, nurses and midwives if the qualifications have been acquired outside the member states of the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

The Health Board, the University of Tartu, and Tartu or Tallinn Health Care College will participate in the assessment of the qualification. The institutions of higher education will also organise the referral to work practice and the theory examination. The remuneration of persons referred to work practice during work practice, the organisational expenses of the University of Tartu or the health care colleges, and the remuneration for the supervision of work practice will be covered from the state budget through the budget of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

According to the data of the Ministry of Social Affairs, every year, about 60 persons from third countries submit an application for commencement of employment as a doctor in Estonia, and one to two persons for commencement of employment as a nurse.

Another significant amendment concerns the doctor-residents. According to the Act, uninterrupted health insurance cover is ensured to all doctor-residents undergoing work practice, regardless of the duration of their contract of employment. This concerns about 60 family medicine doctor-residents who undergo one-month cycles of practical training of residency in various residency teaching hospitals.

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

The Act on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act and the Administrative Co-operation Act (657 SE), initiated by the Social Affairs Committee, makes access to special welfare services supporting the subsistence and quality of life of the persons with special psychological needs quicker and clearer for both the users and the organisers of the services. A uniform system of organisation for referral to services and provision of services will be created. The Act is intended to ensure that adults with a mental disorder in need of assistance receive the assistance corresponding to their actual need for support, in order to prevent a worsening of the person’s subsistence and quality of life. The aim of the Act is to ensure provision of a needs-based and flexible special welfare service. For that, the assessment of the need for a special welfare service and the counselling of persons will be brought to the Social Insurance Board.

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

The Act on Amendments to the Commercial Code and Other Acts (712 SE), initiated by the Government, facilitates investment into Estonian private limited companies by persons located abroad. Up to now, Estonian non-residents had difficulties with opening bank accounts on behalf of companies in Estonia which is however a prerequisite for founding a private limited company under the ordinary procedure.

Up to now, only a bank account in a bank established in Estonia could be used upon the foundation of a private limited company. In the future, an account located in a bank or payment institution established in any Contracting State of the European Economic Area can be used. An account is necessary because the share capital contribution must be paid to the account upon the foundation of a private limited company. The Act has no impact on the establishment of public limited companies; a securities account in an Estonian bank remains a requirement upon the establishment of a public limited company.

The amendments will also enable to make contributions to the accounts of companies located in the above-specified banks and payment institutions to increase share capital. According to the Act, the entry of the e-mail address of an undertaking in the commercial register and change thereof is exempt from the state fee. Up to now, a state fee of 18 euro had to be paid to change an entry.

The Act enters into force on 1 January 2019.

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

The Act on Amendments to the Assistant Police Officer Act (631 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Jaak Madison, Kalle Laanet, Jaanus Karilaid, Toomas Vitsut, Raivo Aeg, Uno Kaskpeit, Valdo Randpere, Külliki Kübarsepp, Margus Tsahkna and Liisa Oviir, creates more flexible possibilities to involve assistant police officers in police work.

Under the Act, assistant police officers will have the right to exercise traffic supervision independently on the assignment of the police, and to stop vehicles in the event of a violation of traffic rules. Assistant police officers will also be able to assist in the camera surveillance in the control centre on the order of a police officer, and to observe events in real time and to notify the nearest patrol in the case of a threat. In the future, assistant police officers may also check drug intoxication, in addition to intoxication by alcohol, with indicator devices. If a positive reading is obtained, the police will perform further procedural acts. The Act also gives assistant police officers the right to impose temporary prohibitions on stay at specific locations, for example to ensure the conducting of offence proceedings.

The Act gives assistant police officers the right to use an electroshock weapon, or Taser, in addition to the right to use a firearm. For that, assistant police officers will have to undergo the relevant training and instruction. Assistant police officers have the right to use a weapon only for self-defence.

Also in the future, assistant police officers will have to be clearly distinguishable from police officers to citizens and wear a safety jacket of an assistant police officer or a uniform of a police officer with the special signs of assistant police officer – it is permitted not to wear them only in exceptional cases.

The Act enters into force on 1 August 2019.

64 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and there were two abstentions.

The Act on Amendments to the Environmental Charges Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (660 SE), initiated by the Government, reorganises the movement of the proceeds from environmental charges. In the future, part of the funds received from environmental charges into the state budget will be allocated to the Ministry of the Environment in the amount determined by the state budget for the relevant year. At present, environmental charges accrue to the state budget, and from there to the foundation Environmental Investment Centre to a fixed extent.

The amendment is necessary because the provision for the funding volume at the charge rates that have been in force since 2009 has become unjustified and in fact limiting by now. The funding volume cannot be flexibly planned or increased as necessary for larger-scale projects.

According to an amendment, the amounts allocated for specific purposes for environmental protection would no longer depend on the proceeds from environmental charges or the charge rates, but the use of these funds would be shaped on the basis of the priorities set during the state budget strategy, the environmental protection need and the long-term strategic view.

The amendment will increase the share of the charge received from environmental charges by local authorities which concerns the charge for oil shale extraction, the thermal treatment of oil shale, and the disposal oil shale fly ash and oil shale bottom ash.

The Act amends the section on supporting the environmental protection sector so that, to implement the environmental programme, the Ministry of the Environment will allocate a yearly amount corresponding to at least the monetary volume of proceeds received from the water abstraction charge into the state budget in the previous year.

The Act also puts an end to the situation where the Ministry of the Environment and the authorities in its area of administration apply for funds to fund their principal activities, for example, monitoring, from the Environmental Investment Centre. In the future, principal activities will be funded directly from the budget of the Ministry of the Environment. This will increase the transparency of the funding of the area of administration, and workload will diminish.

The Act also amends the Atmospheric Air Protection Act, the Administrative Co-operation Act and the Environmental Monitoring Act.

During the debate, Valeri Korb from the Centre Party Faction and Kalle Palling from the Reform Party Faction took the floor.

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

The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Approval of the Consolidated Report of 2017 of the State” (694 OE), submitted by the Government. The report gives an overview of the achievement of the goals set in the state budget, and of the financial situation, economic result and cash flows of the state.

Last year, the state budget expenditure and investments totalled 9.3 billion euro, and the revenues 9.2 billion euro. In 2017, the expenditure and investments exceeded the revenue by 100 million euro. The value of the state assets totalled 17.3 billion euro as at the end of last year, the majority of which were fixed assets. Assets in aggregate increased by 789 million euro over the year. The consolidated obligations of the state amounted to 7.9 billion euro by the end of 2017, which is 485 million more than the year before. Among them, loan obligations accounted for 2.9 billion euro, and they diminished by 15.9 million euro over the year.

The report also includes the audit report of the National Audit Office. In the opinion of the National Audit Office, Estonia’s annual accounts of 2017 are for the most part correct and reflect in all important parts fairly the financial situation of the state, and the economic results and the money flows of the concluded accounting period.

During the debate, Aivar Sõerd from the Reform Party Faction and Mihhail Stalnuhhin from the Centre Party Faction took the floor.

59 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Resolution. There was one abstention.

Eight Acts passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:

The aim of the Bill on Amendments to the Investment Funds Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (717 SE), initiated by the Government, is to increase the performance of the second pillar pension funds by reducing the fees of mandatory pension funds, and to extend the investment options of the pension funds. The relevant EU directive concerning occupational pension fund will be transposed into Estonian law.

The Bill provides for reduction of the maximum rate of the management fee of the second pillar pension funds from the current two per cent to 1.2 per cent of the value of the assets of the pension fund. The maximum rate of the management fee of a conservative pension fund is 1.2 per cent already at present. According to the Bill, in the case of good investment results, a success fee may be charged as a part of the management fee. For that, the performance of the mandatory pension fund will have to exceed the growth of the pension insurance part of social tax starting from the moment of the establishment of the fund in the case of mandatory pension funds established as of September 2019 or later. It will not be permitted to charge a success fee on the management of a conservative pension fund.

The Bill will reduce the investment restrictions of the pension funds. In the future, funds investing in shares to the extent of 100 per cent will be allowed. The concept of conservative pension fund will be preserved, but the Bill will allow them to invest in shares to the extent of up to ten per cent. At present, these funds must not invest in shares.

In addition, the second pillar pension funds will be allowed to make real estate investments to a larger extent which might also support investing in Estonia. According to the Bill, up to ten per cent of the assets of a pension fund may be invested in an immovable, instead of the current five per cent.

The Bill will transpose the EU directive on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision. The directive amends the governance requirements applicable to occupational pension funds, and the information of members of pension schemes. A mandatory pension statement will be established for information of members of pension schemes. A pension statement will give information on the amount of money that has been accrued in the occupational pension scheme, and the amount that the employee can expect from the scheme until he or she retires. There are no such funds in Estonia as discussed in the directive, and therefore the amendments will have no practical effect. The transposition of the directive will not concern employer’s contributions to the third pillar.

Eiki Nestor took the floor on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction in the debate.

The Bill on Amendments to the Vocational Educational Institutions Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (704 SE), initiated by the Government, will link vocational education better with the needs of the labour market, update the principles of funding vocational education, allow better access to vocational education and enhance the process of assessment of the quality of vocational education. The proposed amendments proceed from the objectives set in the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 and the vocational education programme 2018–2021 drawn up to implement it.

According to the Bill, the school council will approve the number of student training places for a calendar year which is coordinated with the advisory body of the school beforehand. This means that the state in cooperation with partners will negotiate the training volumes of every school. The amendment will allow responding more immediately to the needs of learners and the labour market in cooperation with local undertakings.

According to the Bill, activity support and, if necessary, targeted support will be allocated to schools from the state budget. Performance funding will account for up to 20 per cent of the base funding volume and will depend on the performance indicators of the school. Base funding gives the school security that its operating expenses are covered, and performance funding increases motivation and autonomy.

The Bill will also extend the target group of the school lunch allowance, according to which the school lunch allowance will be allocated to schools for pupils who have not completed secondary education and who study in full-time study according to initial training curricula, regardless of their age. Under the current procedure, the school lunch allowance is given until the end of the current academic year to pupils who have attained 20 years of age and who have not completed secondary education.

The Bill will amend the conditions for receiving the beginner’s allowance for vocational teachers, and in the future teachers who take up teaching at vocational schools in Tallinn or Tartu will also be able to apply for the beginner’s allowance. According to the amendments, the beginner’s allowance will be paid as a lump sum as of 1 September 2020. At present it is paid in three instalments. The beginner’s allowance will also be provided for for support specialists who take up employment at vocational educational institutions for the first time. The beginner’s allowance for support specialists and teachers is around 12 700 euro.

The Bill provides for the possibility to provide general education instruction in the form of non-stationary study in vocational educational institutions with a view to broadening opportunities for access to formal education. At present, local governments also ensure acquisition of basic education in non-stationary study for persons of 17 years of age or older, and there is also the possibility to provide the relevant study at state upper secondary schools.

The Bill provides for the possibility for vocational educational institutions to open vocational choice curricula. It is formal education at vocational educational institutions in preparation for specialised studies. Opening of vocational choice curricula will ensure better access to vocational education for basic school graduates who are not sure of their choice of specialty and who lack clear motivation to continue with studies or in the labour market at once.

The Bill is intended to change the current organisation of accreditation of vocational education which will be replaced with quality assessment. In the quality assessment process, a school that has the right to provide instruction in a curriculum group without a term will receive substantive feedback on the study process as well as on how to improve the organisation of study at least once every six years.

The Bill on Amendments to the Museums Act (716 SE), initiated by the Government, will change the principles for compensation for the damage caused to the owner of an international exhibition, and bring the regulation of the national guarantee of the compensation for damage to an exhibition in Estonia into conformity with internationally accepted practice. The aim of the Bill is to increase the credibility of the organisers of exhibitions in Estonia in international communication, and to facilitate the organisation of international exhibitions.

Under the Bill, the national regulation of the guarantee of compensation for damages to the exhibition will not cover the risks acknowledged in the practice of exhibiting international exhibitions which the exhibitor cannot influence or take into account when providing a security. According to the Bill, the Government will establish the list of the risks. Under the current Act, the compensation for the damage to the exhibition does not cover the damage that has been caused by confiscation of the exhibition by another state, the natural aging of the work, a fault that was made during earlier restoration or conservation, or force majeure.

As the most important amendment, the Bill will abandon the use of the concept of “force majeure” and will extend the risks that have been regarded as force majeure up to now, this way including, for example, damage caused by natural forces as well as terrorist attacks occurring during transportation of the exhibition. With the amendment, the system of compensation for damages to the exhibition that is in force in Estonia will become more credible in the eyes of international cooperation partners. It will also allow reducing the insurance costs of state museums and museums operating as foundations established by the state.

The Bill will establish the conditions for cases in which the compensation for damage covers only part of the composition and value of the exhibition. Such conditions are the cultural significance of the exhibition, the high price of the guaranteed compensation for damage, or the existence of an equivalent guarantee of a foreign country. The Bill also provides that if the part of the compensation for damage which is not ensured is not covered by a guarantee granted under equivalent law of a foreign country, an insurance contract must be concluded.

The Bill on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act (706 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the requirements for safety features which need to be brought into conformity with a European Commission Regulation. With the implementation of the European Commission Regulation, the safety features of medicinal products will be adopted in the whole Europe and a system will be established that will allow authentication of medicinal products at any point of the supply chain in the future. In the future, the Bill will obligate medicinal product manufacturers to place safety features on the packaging of medicinal products subject to prescription. Wholesalers and pharmacists will have the additional obligation to check the safety features of medicinal products.

In the course of the second reading, the Bill was amended by adding a provision according to which branch pharmacies established before 9 June 2014 will be allowed to operate in cities with a population of over 4,000 people until 1 April 2020.

The Bill on Amendments to the State Pension Insurance Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (613 SE), initiated by the Government, discusses amendments relating to the retirement age and the pension formula, and the establishment of flexible pension, as well as the reopening of the possibility for making contributions to the second pillar pension. The aim of the amendments is to ensure that pensions are more solidary, take into account demographic trends, and are sufficiently flexible so that a person could choose for himself or herself when he or she wishes to retire.

The amendments proposed by the Bill mainly concern persons who were born in 1962 or later and will reach retirement age after 2026.

The Bill will link, as of 2027, the retirement age to the change in the average life expectancy for 65-year-olds. At present, the retirement age depends on the year of birth of the person, and it is 63 years and 6 months at the moment. According to the Bill, the transitional period will last until 2026 when the retirement age will be 65 years. Starting from 2027, the retirement age will be 65 years, to which the change in the life expectancy for 65-year-olds will be added. If life expectancy rises, the retirement age will also rise, and vice versa. The retirement age may increase by up to three months in a calendar year.

Starting from 2021, retirement will become more flexible. Under the Bill, in the future, it will be possible to retire up to five years before the retirement age, or to postpone the receipt of pension for as long as one wishes. As a result of the amendments, people will be able to work according to their skills and health, and also receive a flexible pension during that time.

The Bill will change the pension formula for the first pillar. Instead of an insurance part depending on the amount of remuneration, starting from 2021, people will collect a combined part, of which one half will calculated on the basis of the length of service and the other half on the basis of remuneration. During the second reading, an amendment was made to the Bill, according to which the abovementioned system would also continue after 2037.

According to an amendment to the Bill, the reduction of the requirement for a pension qualifying period for persons with partial or no capacity for work will be retained in the cases when they work at a reduced burden, more specifically, up to the extent of the minimum wage. According to the initial Bill, a person with partial or no capacity for work would have been deprived of the reduction of the requirement for a pension qualifying period in the case when he or she worked even once a week.

The possibility to make contributions to the second pillar will be reopened to persons who were born in 1970–1982.

During the debate, Maris Lauri, Taavi Rõivas, Valdo Randpere and Hanno Pevkur from the Reform Party Faction, Eiki Nestor from the Social Democratic Party Faction, Marika Tuus-Laul from the Centre Party Faction and Tiina Kangro took the floor.

The Reform Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. 27 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 40 were against. Thus, the motion was not supported and the second reading was concluded.

The Bill on Amendments to the European Union Common Agricultural Policy Implementation Act (714 SE), initiated by the Government, will update the European Union Common Agricultural Policy Implementation Act on the basis of the amendments to current Regulations of the European Parliament and of the Council. Also, the manner of notification of the implementation of the measures necessary to maintain the area of a permanent grassland eligible for climate and environmental payment will be changed, and a mistake that occurred in the course of the amendment of the Public Procurement Act will be corrected.

Based on the amendments to an EU Regulation, as of 2018, Member States have the possibility to abandon the additional verification whereby a person proves that he or she is an active farmer. At present, farmers who, among other things, for example, operate airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services, permanent sport and recreational grounds, must prove additionally that they are active farmers, to receive support; in the future, no additional proof will be needed. Such persons will be deemed to be active farmers. In the future, the beneficiaries of the climate and environmental payment will not be announced in the official publication “Ametlikud Teadaanded”, but information will be published on the website of the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board, and a personal notification will be sent to the beneficiary.

The Farm Animals Breeding Bill (715 SE), initiated by the Government, will implement the EU Regulation on zootechnical and genealogical conditions for the breeding, trade in and entry into the Union of purebred breeding animals, hybrid breeding pigs and the germinal products thereof.

The Bill will establish the procedure for applying for activity licences for breeding, the object of inspection of activity licence and the procedure for approval of breeding programmes, the conditions for the application of the derogations concerning the entry of animals in herd-books and registration of animals in breeding registers, and the provisions concerning the exercise of supervision over breeding.

According to the Bill, the Veterinary and Food Board will be the competent authority within the meaning of the Animal Breeding Regulation.

The Bill on Amendments to the Release into Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms Act and the Plant Protection Act (681 SE), initiated by the Government, provides for abandoning 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 will be created instead. Also, under the Bill, in the future, to cultivate a GM crop, an agreement will have to be reached in advance 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 no need to establish a new national database.

Under the current Act, if an apiary is located up to three kilometres from arable land, a person who would like to grow a GM crop must inform the apiary owner in writing of the intention to cultivate the GM crop.

The information obligation will be abandoned because contamination of honey with GMO-s is relatively likely in the case of an up to three-kilometre radius from a hive. Thus information alone does not yield the necessary result, and to avoid later disputes, it is important to achieve an agreement by which the beekeeper among other things expresses his or her consent to potential contamination of honey with GMO-s and takes into account the accompanying consequences.

Four Bills passed the first reading in the Riigikogu:

The Bill on Amendments to the Industrial Emissions 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.

The Covered Bond Bill (760 SE), initiated by the Government, will create the possibility for credit institutions to issue covered bonds, which is a special type of bond. Covered bonds are guaranteed bonds issued by credit institutions (put simpler, banks), 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 plegde of claims in the Law of Property Act will not apply to the guaranteeing of covered bonds; that will be subject to a special procedure. This means above all that, in the event of failure of a credit institution (the issuer), collateral will be separated and it will be 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.

The Bill on Amendments to the Notarisation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (719 SE), initiated by the Government, will simplify the performance of acts and transactions requiring a notarial format for e-residents as well as for Estonian citizens abroad. The Bill will create a new form of notarial authentication, remote authentication, which will allow authentication of, for example, transactions and powers of attorney of transfer and pledging of shares of private limited companies, as well as submission of applications for marriage and divorce, succession or renunciation of succession via a video bridge between the notary and the client.

Upon performance of remote authentication acts, the identity of the participant in the act will be established at the foreign mission. The notary fee upon remote authentication will be higher by 20 euro compared to ordinary acts, and the state fee for acts performed in foreign missions will be 20 euro.

The Bill will explicitly enable notaries to also certify digital signatures. This will facilitate electronic certification by an apostille of digitally signed documents (e.g. diploma, certificate, documentation, correction notice, notification, etc.).

The Bill 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 for imposition of additional measures on persons who evade payment of maintenance for children.

Under the current law, it is possible to suspend the rights and the validity of authorisations of maintenance debtors (e.g. the right to drive a power-driven vehicle, weapons permit, fishing card), to refuse payment of allowances (e.g. private forest owners’ support) to maintenance debtors, to request seizure of money paid for a debtor from a third person, and to disclose the names of debtors. These measures entered into force on 1 March 2016.

The Bill will allow to additionally revoke the travel documents (e.g. Estonian citizen’s passport, temporary travel document, seafarer’s discharge books, certificates of record of service on Estonian ships) of maintenance debtors, and to prohibit the issuing thereof. Since it is obligatory in Estonia for all persons who have attained the age of 15 years to hold an ID-card, the ID-card of a maintenance debtor cannot be revoked, and his or her free movement in the European Union cannot be restricted. The measure would however restrict the right of debtors to travel outside the European Union.

If a bailiff has not succeeded in collecting the maintenance from the maintenance debtor within two months, the bailiff will be able to have recourse to a court for revocation of the travel document and prohibiting the issue of a new one.

The Bill provides for the possibility to impose deprivation of a vehicle of the maintenance debtor as one measure. For that purpose, an additional notation is intended to be introduced to the traffic register on the basis of which the police will be able to transfer the vehicle of the debtor to the bailiff.

According to the Bill, third persons (e.g. banks, casinos, pawn shops, etc.) who are required to identify persons will be required to refuse performance of monetary obligations exceeding 5000 euro in cash to maintenance debtors.

Two Bills were dropped from the proceedings of the Riigikogu:

The Bill on Amendments to the Riigikogu Election Act (701 SE), initiated by the Estonian Free Party Faction, provided for allowing the election coalitions of political parties to also nominate candidates for the election of the Riigikogu. The explanatory memorandum noted that that had been possible in the 1990s, but the Act that was in force did not provide for such a possibility.

The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 57 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and six were against. Thus the Bill was dropped from the proceedings of the Riigikogu.

The Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Act on Amendments to the Income Tax Act, the Social Tax Act and Other Acts (697 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction, provided for lowering the excise duty rates for low-alcohol beverages so that this year they would correspond to the level of February 2017. The explanatory memorandum set out that, in order to avoid a significant decrease in tax revenues and a deterioration in the competitiveness of the exporting sectors (including the tourism, accommodation, shipping and trading sectors), the excise duty rises adopted in 2018 needed to be repealed completely. According to the explanatory memorandum, a change of the established excise duty rates would have a favourable impact for the state, the investment plans of producers, as well as trading.

Jürgen Ligi from the Reform Party Faction took the floor during the debate.

The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 45 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 32 were against. Thus the Bill was dropped from the proceedings of the Riigikogu.

The sitting ended at 9.36 p.m.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian).

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

Riigikogu Press Service
Merilin Kruuse
Phone +372 631 6353, +372 510 6179
E-mail merilin.kruuse@riigikogu.ee
Questions press@riigikogu.ee

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