On the motion of the National Defence Committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Defence Forces Organisation Act (256 SE), initiated by the Government, was concluded. The amendments are motivated by the aim to organise and update the structure of the Defence Forces and to specify duties and subordination. The main amendment concerns the establishing of the special operations unit of the Defence Forces as a separate structural unit of the Defence Forces in the immediate subordination of the Commander of the Defence Forces. At present, the special operations group forms a part of the Intelligence Battalion. This amendment is necessary first of all for reasons arising from operational planning. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
The Riigikogu decided with 38 votes in favour to support the proposal from the Chancellor of Justice to bring subsections 421 (1)‒(3) of the Medicinal Products Act into conformity with the Constitution. According to the explanation of the Chancellor of Justice Indrek Teder, the restrictions on issue and amendment of the activity licence of general pharmacy established in subsections 421 (1)‒(3) of the Medicinal Products Act violate the freedom of enterprise provided in § 31 of the Constitution in conjunction with the general fundamental right to equality provided in subsection 12 (1) of the Constitution, that is, these subsections provide establishment restrictions upon establishing new pharmacies and expanding of or changing the seat of existing pharmacies. The Chancellor of Justice stated that, by the moment when these provisions had been established, a situation had developed in the pharmacy services market where there was a tough competition between pharmacies in cities but in rural areas the number of pharmacies was constantly decreasing and the service was no longer geographically available to all people. In such a situation, the legislator had decided to restrict the establishment of new pharmacies the direct consequence of which is mainly that the markets of the provision of pharmacy services are locked up against newcomers. In the opinion of the Chancellor of Justice, locking up the market of pharmacy services inevitably leads to unequal treatment of undertakings also in wholesale trade in medicinal products, affecting thus the competition not only in the provision of pharmacy services but in the sale of medicinal products on a wider scale. On the basis of the analyses carried out by the Competition Board and the National Audit Office, it has appeared that in a situation where certain demand for pharmacy services exists anyway, there are no objective and substantial reasons to use the “market lock-up”. Elimination of the market lock up of pharmacy services would extend the opportunities of the undertakings engaging in the selling of medicinal products to seize and expand the market. This would help change the situation which has developed where in the main part two large undertakings control the markets of retail and wholesale of medicinal products. 20 members of the Riigikogu voted against the proposal from the Chancellor of Justice, one member abstained. The Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu will have to initiate a Bill for bringing subsections 421 (1)‒(3) of the Medicinal Products Act into conformity with the Constitution.
The Riigikogu Press Service
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