At today’s sitting of the Riigikogu, the new Government led by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas assumed office by taking the oath of office.
The Government includes Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Andres Sutt, Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna, Minister of Justice Maris Lauri, Minister of Defence Kalle Laanet, Minister of the Environment Tõnis Mölder, Minister of Culture Anneli Ott, Minister for Economy and Infrastructure Taavi Aas, Minister of Finance Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse, Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab, Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani, Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo, Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik and Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets.
Three Bills passed the second reading
The Bill on Amendments to the European Union Common Agricultural Policy Implementation Act (227 SE), initiated by the Government, will specify in the part concerning the implementation of the aid in the apiculture sector the content of the activity report drawn up for the apiculture year, and the source documents for eligible costs necessary for obtaining aid in the apiculture sector. It will be provided that the activity report drawn up for the apiculture year will have to contain the results of the apiculture programme, besides a description of the activities. This will enhance the implementation of the apiculture programme because, starting from 2018, the participating Member States are required to notify to the European Commission a report based on the performance indicators for the apiculture year.
According to the Bill, the eligible costs of implementing the apiculture programme will be compensated on the basis of the payment claim and cost receipts submitted electronically to the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board via the electronic e-service environment of the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board. Compared to the current procedure, compensation will no longer be based on the activity report approved by the evaluation committee. The aim of the activity report is to evaluate the qualitative implementation of the programme and the report is not needed to evaluate the eligibility of the activities carried out. A payment claim and the documents proving the expenditure incurred will be sufficient for this.
In addition, the Act will be brought into conformity with European Union law by including two measures in the Rural Development Plan, support for restoring agricultural potential and support for agricultural insurance, in the case of which applications will no longer need to be evaluated. This will enable to have application rounds open all year round.
The Bill on Amendments to the European Union Common Agricultural Policy Implementation Act (245 SE), initiated by the Government, will clarify the application for an import licence for hemp seeds. The amendments concern the licences for hemp seeds other than for sowing, for example, those used as feedingstuff or for pressing oil. In order that the requirements in place would be unambiguously and clearly understandable to holders of licences in the future, the obligation to submit documents on the use of hemp seeds, the arrangements for authorisation and the carrying out of checks will be provided for by law.
The Bill provides that, before a person will acquire an import licence, he or she will need to obtain authorisation from the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board. He or she will need to submit documents on the use of hemp seeds to the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board within 12 months. The Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board will be given the competence to carry out checks on compliance with the requirements for the use of hemp seeds.
Practice has shown that operators fail to meet their obligations assumed under a licence. The obligation to submit documents derives from EU law under which, in the case of release for free circulation of hemp seeds other than for sowing, the import licence shall be issued only where the authorised importer undertakes that the authorities competent for checks concerning the relevant operations in the Member State where the importer is authorised will be provided, within the time limits and under the conditions set by the Member State, with documents. The same Regulation sets out the obligation of the Member State to approve the importer and to carry out checks. Thus, an authorisation by the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board will be a precondition for obtaining a licence, and submission of the documents within 12 months as of the issue of the licence will be a side-condition.
The Bill on Amendments to the Food Act (228 SE), initiated by the Government, is due to the need to reduce the administrative burden for food handlers, to use an opportunity to establish more flexible requirements for the buildings and premises of businesses and to enable marketing of food of animal origin on the basis of notification obligation.
The aim of the Bill is to provide more flexible hygiene requirements for handling food of animal origin for small businesses in order to reduce bureaucracy and to promote business development. According to the Bill, the authorisation obligation will be replaced by notification obligation. This means that, in the future, businesses who are not subject to authorisation under the European Union hygiene regulations will not have to apply for authorisation. It will be sufficient that they notify of their activities by submitting a notice of economic activities.
According to the Bill, starting handling of food will become simpler but all requirements relating to food safety will remain in place. Food placed on the market must be safe for human health. The handler is responsible for the conformity of the food handled and the handling, and the handler is required to use all opportunities to ensure this. Before starting activity and submitting a notice of economic activities, a business will still have to meet the requirements for premises, employees as well as documents, and it will have to have a self-check plan.
According to the amendments made during the second reading, the Act will enter into force on 1 April.
One Bill was dropped from the proceedings
The Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Public Broadcasting Act (283 SE), initiated by Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal, was intended to create legal clarity in the activity of the Estonian Public Broadcasting which would conform to the implementation of the principles of media service under public law. It was also intended to bring the Estonian Public Broadcasting Act into conformity with the Commercial Code.
The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 62 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 19 voted against. Thus, the motion was supported and the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceedings.
Photos (Author: Erik Peinar, Chancellery of the Riigikogu)
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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