The Riigikogu supported the proposals of the Chancellor of Justice to bring the Water Act and the Product Conformity Act into conformity with the Constitution.
The Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise noted in her proposal to bring subsection 17 (4) of the Water Act into conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia that, under the Water Act, the owner or possessor of a barrage must, under subsection 51 (2) of the Nature Conservation Act, construct a passage for fish both upstream and downstream of the barrage if the barred water body or a section thereof has been approved as a spawning area or habitat of salmon, brown trout, salmon trout or grayling. For that, either a special passage must be constructed on the barrage, or the barrage must be demolished, and the Act allows for no exceptions for the protection of other values.
So for example a historic and still-functioning valuable watermill should also be spoiled. At the same time, section 5 of the Heritage Conservation Act prohibits the destruction or damaging of monuments, and the owner of the mill is faced with the problem that it is impossible to fulfil the requirements of the Environmental Board and the National Heritage Board simultaneously.
In the opinion of the Chancellor of Justice, it is possible to amend the Act so that the obligation to construct a passage for fish is not absolute, and the Environmental Board should have the right to consider different constitutional values.
76 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice, nobody was against, and there were 6 abstentions.
The Environment Committee was charged with the task of initiating a Bill for bringing the Water Act into conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia.
Rein Ratas and Andres Herkel took the floor during the debate.
The Chancellor of Justice noted in her proposal to bring the Product Conformity Act into conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia that the Product Conformity Act is in conflict with the Constitution because it contains no regulation concerning the fee charged for mandatory accreditation.
Upon mandatory accreditation, a public law relationship is created between the accreditation body and the institution being accredited, and consequently an accreditation fee qualifies as a public law financial obligation. The Constitution requires that all public law financial obligations or elements thereof be provided for by law. This requirement has not been met for accreditation fees.
Electrical installations, heating system boilers, lifts and many other devices must be technically inspected (audited) before putting into service and periodically also in the course of use. With an audit, the technical condition and safety of the device is evaluated, and the body conducting the audit must have accreditation. The Estonian Accreditation Centre charges a fee for accreditation, and it is charged on the basis of the price list approved by the Supervisory Board of the Estonian Accreditation Centre. At the same time, no legal authorisation to establish accreditation fees has been granted to the Estonian Accreditation Centre.
78 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the proposal of the Chancellor of Justice, nobody was against, and there was one abstentions.
The Economic Affairs Committee was charged with the task of initiating a Bill for bringing the Product Conformity Act into conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia.
The Riigikogu rejected the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making a Proposal to the Government of the Republic” (158 OE), submitted by the Estonian Centre Party Faction. It was intended to make a proposal to the Government to develop measures and programmes that would increase Estonia’s independent defence capability and reduce our dependence on the deployment capability and capacity of the allied forces.
24 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the draft Resolution, 34 were against, and there were 3 abstentions.
Ain Lutsepp, Mart Helme, Madis Milling, Sven Mikser and Jaanus Karilaid took the floor on behalf of factions during the debate.
Ain Lutsepp, who took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Free Party Faction, said that as the Draft Resolution would force the Government to plan large investments in the budget, the Free Party considers it problematic. “The procurement of short-range anti-aircraft missiles mentioned in the Draft Resolution initiated by the Centre Party, and also the acquisition of the Javelin anti-tank systems is a large investment. Each investment of this kind requires thorough analysis and finding additional sums in the state budget. The Defence Forces and the Ministry of Defence have the competence to plan such activities and, as far as it is known, they are dealing with it,” he noted. “At the same time, this draft resolution could be the subject of a defence policy debate. A small country does not have to plan a war into its future, but it should be ready to defend itself.”
Mart Helme, who took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, said that the draft resolution is slightly biased towards fighting and military defence capability, and that more attention should be paid to protecting the population in the case of possible disasters. “I would like to remind all who are present here that in our immediate neighbourhood there is such a nuclear bomb as Sosnovy Bor power plant, and it has several times been referred to as a potential source of nuclear leakage or nuclear disaster,” he added. “It is one specific example of why we have to pay more attention than before and also start paying attention sooner to the protection of our population.”
Madis Milling, who took the floor on behalf of the Reform Party Faction, noted that protection of population in the case of natural and industrial disasters should be kept apart from military defence. “Today, when an Iskander missile approaches, nobody would notice it and there will be no time to react. So that military civil defence as such is nowadays a much more complicated issue than speaking of how the Soviet-time bunkers have been let to fall into disrepair,” he added. “But I agree one hundred percent that the local governments are on a doubtful position or they have only formal crisis management committees that do not know how to react if, as Mr Karilaid gave an example here, an ammonia tank wagon is derailed in the centre of the city of Tartu.”
Sven Mikser, who took the floor on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction, emphasised the capability of the members of the Estonian Defence Forces to offer good solutions for developing national defence. “I think that our defence policy consensus could be more or less like this: we listen very attentively to the advice from the military, and try not to outdo one another in this hall by claiming that it does not matter what the generals say, let us first buy some other kind of ironware, some other elements of equipment, and they will somehow find a way to use it for the defence of Estonia,” he said. “It is not done this way. I believe that then we will make a big step backwards in the development of our national defence.”
Jaanus Karilaid, who took the floor on behalf of the Centre Party Faction, called upon the members of the Riigikogu to support the Draft Resolution. “We were speaking of four security gaps, all of which are strategic. Protection of the population is strategic, deterrence of the Defence Forces and increasing of the defence capability are strategic, coastal surveillance and its conception together with the developing of relevant capabilities are strategic, development of military communications is strategic,” he said. “We have involved the best security experts of Estonia in the preparation of this Draft Resolution.”
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/et/201601211000
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu (NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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