According to the Bill that passed the second reading in the Riigikogu, the size of the supplementary budget is 641 million euro and it is intended to assist Estonian people, businesses, society and health care system.
The Bill on the State’s Supplementary Budget for 2021 (357 SE), initiated by the Government, provides a package of measures that contains funds to pay remuneration support in the economic sectors where the volume of work is decreasing due to restrictions, continuation of the compensation of sickness benefits from the second day of sick leave, additional measures for the maintenance of mental health and for special welfare and rehabilitation, additional funds for medicines, vaccination and crisis management and support measures for the tourism sector, cultural organisers and creative persons. The compensation to the extent of 117 million euro planned for persons who suspend their contributions into the second pillar pension scheme that had not been taken into account in the state budget for 2021 has also been included in the supplementary budget.
During the debate, Indrek Saar (Social Democratic Party), Mihhail Lotman (Isamaa), Kersti Sarapuu (Centre Party), Aivar Kokk (Isamaa), Jaak Juske (Social Democratic Party), Aivar Sõerd (Reform Party), Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), Eduard Odinets (Social Democratic Party), Kalvi Kõva (Social Democratic Party), Lauri Läänemets (Social Democratic Party), Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party) and Henn Põlluaas (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor.
Ten motions to amend the Bill had been submitted for the second reading. The Riigikogu did not support them.
Six Bills passed the first reading
The Bill on Amendments to the Media Services Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (327 SE), initiated by the Government, will allow to transpose into Estonian legal space the European Union Audiovisual Media Services Directive and to apply it.
According to the Bill, the Media Services Act will also regulate video-sharing platforms and social media channels. This concerns for example YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion.
In order to provide a service, it will be necessary to submit a notice of economic activities to the register of economic activities and to set out the procedure for blocking illegal content in the terms and conditions. The Bill will adjust the regulation of the Act, including the activity licence system, to correspond to new audiovisual media services, for example the web television at larger news portals. This means that the providers of the relevant service will have to apply for an activity licence, submit reports on the programme structure and disclose their ownership structure.
The Bill will harmonise the rules for ensuring the protection of minors and morality and legality applicable to the television service and the on-demand audiovisual media service (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes), as well as to domestic videos-on-demand. In order to improve access to audiovisual media services for persons with disabilities, service providers will be obliged to draw up accessibility action plans.
The Bill will also make other amendments, for example, a quota for European works will be set for on-demand audiovisual media service providers that will have to be at least 30 per cent of the catalogue of programmes. Audiovisual media service providers will also have an obligation to disclose their ownership structure. The Ministry of Education and Research will be responsible for the promotion of media competence. The time limit for submitting replies to assertions made in programmes broadcast on television or radio will be extended to 30 days from the current 20 days. It will be further emphasised that the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority as the national supervisory body for the media sector is independent in the performance of its functions, and the conditions necessary for the exercise of supervision will be created. Among other things, the time limits for preserving the recordings of programmes will be extended to 30 up to 90 days from the current 20 days, depending on the type of the activity licence necessary to provide the television or radio service.
The amendments proposed with the Bill will mainly affect the Estonian audiovisual media service providers, around a couple of dozen undertakings. At this stage, there is no detailed overview of the video-sharing platform providers established in Estonia but it is known that the local users still prefer internationally renowned platforms none of which falls within Estonian jurisdiction.
During the debate, Mihhail Lotman (Isamaa) moved to reject the Bill on behalf of his Faction. Aadu Must (Centre Party), Jaak Valge (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) and Heidy Purga (Reform Party) also took part in the debate.
28 members of the Riigikogu voted for the motion to reject the Bill at the first reading and 61 voted against.
The Bill on Amendments to the Emergency Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (350 SE), initiated by the Government, will ensure central readiness to establish and store a stock to ensure the supply security of population through the establishment of the Estonian Stocks Centre; the competences, powers and tasks of the Ministry of the Interior in coordinating crisis management will be transferred to the Government of the Republic and the Government Office; and the Government Office will be charged with the task of drafting legislation in the coordination of a field involving several areas of government.
According to the Bill, the general organisation of crisis management in the country will also be specified since the establishment of stock is directly related to the regulations of preparing for different crises and the comprehensive national defence. With an amendment, the competences, powers and tasks of the Ministry of the Interior in coordinating crisis management will be transferred to the Government of the Republic and the Government Office. In so far as the implementation of the comprehensive national defence is essentially integrated planning for different threats to the country and society, it will be relevant to concentrate all coordination of the crisis management policy to the Government of the Republic, more specifically under the Government Office at the Government of the Republic. The amendment will not result in the elimination of the principle according to which every ministry and authority is responsible for crisis management in its area of responsibility. The tasks of the Government Office will remain similar to today’s tasks of the Ministry of the Interior. This means that the Government Office will direct the activities of authorities in general, at the national level, while the ministry will do so more specifically in its area of government and will be responsible for the necessary crisis management tasks to be performed.
Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa), who participated in the debate, moved to reject the Bill on behalf of his faction. Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) also took the floor during the debate.
27 members of the Riigikogu voted for the motion to reject the Bill at the first reading and 58 voted against.
Under the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (non-cash means of payment) (351 SE), initiated by the Government, the European Union directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment and replacing an earlier Council Framework Decision will be transposed into Estonian law.
Significant gaps and differences in Member States’ laws in the areas of fraud and of counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment can obstruct the prevention, detection and sanctioning of those types of crime and other serious and organised crimes related to them. This makes police and judicial cooperation complicated and less effective. In view of this, the Council Framework Decision was updated in order to include further provisions on offences in particular with regard to computer-related fraud, and on penalties, prevention, assistance to victims and cross-border cooperation.
The adoption of the new directive also brought about the need to review the national legislation regulating the fight against crime relating to non-cash means of payment in Estonia. Under the Bill, among other things, the maximum sanction, that is, imprisonment, for misappropriation is planned to be increased from one year to two years. Other amendments to transpose the directive into national law are also made.
The Bill on Amendments to the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act and the Taxation Act (358 SE), initiated by the Government, will make amendments that will help to support the Health Board in resolving a health care emergency, in particular to ensure the data exchanges between national registers necessary for the performance of functions. The Bill will amend the data composition of the communicable diseases register. The Taxation Act will be amended to allow both the Health Board (activity licences register, communicable diseases register) and the Ministry of Social Affairs (health information system) to process the data relating to the place of work of a person.
During the debate, Kert Kingo (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor and moved to reject the Bill on behalf of her faction. 19 members of the Riigikogu voted for the motion to reject the Bill at the first reading and 58 voted against.
The explanatory memorandum to the Bill on the Ratification of the Protocol amending the Agreement of 29 November 1996 between the Republic of Estonia and the Federal Republic of Germany for the Avoidance of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital (352 SE), initiated by the Government, states that the agreement between Estonia and Germany for the avoidance of double taxation with respect to taxes on income and on capital entered into force on 30 December 1998. The purpose of the agreements for the avoidance of double taxation is to facilitate investments between Contracting States. To achieve this aim, the agreement limits the income taxes that the country of the source of income can establish for residents of the other country, ensures equal treatment of persons and eliminates potential double taxation.
The need to conclude a new protocol arose from the wish to bring the provisions of the tax agreement into conformity with the minimum standard agreed upon within the framework of the OECD action plan against base erosion and profit shifting. The entry into force of the Protocol will contribute to the reduction of tax avoidance opportunities.
Under the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Approval of the Funding of the Recovery Plan for the European Union and the Council of the European Union Decision on the System of Own Resources” (353 OE), initiated by the Government, the Riigikogu will approve the Council of the European Union (Council) decision on the system of own resources. It provides for the funding of the EU Recovery Plan by way of a Union loan that all Member States will repay through EU budget contributions starting from 2027 at the latest until the end of 2058 and a new category of own resources based on non-recycled plastic packaging waste will be introduced as own resources to finance the EU budget.
In order that the Commission could borrow funds on behalf of the EU, the Council authorises the Commission on an exceptional basis to borrow temporarily up to EUR 750 000 million (in 2018 prices; 807 billion in current prices) to address the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and to relaunch the EU economy. The funds borrowed by the Commission cannot be used for any other purposes. Furthermore, the decision on own resources describes the various categories of own resources, that is, of the revenue sources of the EU budget, to which own resources based on non-recycled plastic packaging waste will be added from 2021.
During the debate, Martin Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) moved to reject the draft Resolution on behalf of his faction. Lauri Läänemets (Social Democratic Party) and Siim Kallas (Reform Party) also took the floor during the debate.
17 members of the Riigikogu voted for the motion to reject the Bill at the first reading and 55 voted against.
The second reading of a Bill was suspended
The second reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Maritime Safety Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (284 SE), initiated by the Government, was suspended to allow the affected sector additional time to familiarise itself with the amendments. The purpose of the Bill is to bring the Act into conformity with the requirements of European Union legislation and international conventions and to reduce the administrative burden for companies and persons.
During the debate, Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa) and Andres Metsoja (Isamaa) took the floor.
The sitting ended at 1.30 a.m. on 8 April.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)
The video recording of the sitting will be available on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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