At the opening sitting of the Riigikogu autumn session, President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas and President Alar Karis made speeches.
The Riigikogu passed an Act
The Act on Amendments to the Police and Border Guard Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (532 SE), initiated by the Government, makes the amendments necessary to adopt the Entry/Exit System (EES). The objectives of the EES are to enhance the management of the external borders of the European Union, to reduce irregular immigration and to contribute to the prevention and disruption of terrorism and other serious crime.
The system is established for the recording of the date, time and place of entry and exit of third-country nationals crossing the external borders; the calculation of the duration of the authorised stay of such third-country nationals; and the generation of alerts to Member States when the authorised stay has expired. The EES is also for the recording of the date, time and place of refusal of entry of third-country nationals whose entry for a short stay has been refused, as well as the authority of the Member State which refused the entry and the reasons therefor.
The establishment of the system was provided by a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 2017. Although it is a directly applicable EU legal act, Member States have been given the right to specify the provisions of the Regulation in some issues. So the Act specifies authorities’ rights of access to EES data, the rights to enter data into the EES, the tasks of the central access point, the authorisations to access EES data for law enforcement purposes, and issues relating to access to, rectification, completion and erasure of the data in the EES, and restriction of the processing thereof.
79 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.
The Riigikogu concluded the second reading of two Bills
The Bill on Amendments to the State Fees Act (598 SE), initiated by the Government, will make it simpler for Ukrainian war refugees who are health care professionals, pharmacists and dispensing chemists to take up employment in their area of specialisation. According to the Bill, when they receive international protection, they will be released for one year from the obligation to pay a state fee upon their registration with the register of the Health Board and review of their professional qualifications. This way, an opportunity will be created for war refugees to continue work in their area of specialty and to avoid a situation where lack of funds could hinder this. At present, health care professionals, pharmacists and dispensing chemists who have acquired their profession in a foreign country must pay a state fee of 195 euro for the review of their application for registration as well as their application for the recognition of their professional qualifications.
During the debate, Kert Kingo (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Helmen Kütt (Social Democratic Party), Heiki Hepner (Isamaa), Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Hele Everaus (Reform Party), Kalle Grünthal (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Peeter Ernits (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Mihhail Lotman (Isamaa) and Henn Põlluaas (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor.
The Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill. The result of voting: 19 votes in favour and 42 against. The motion was not supported. The second reading was concluded.
The Bill on Amendments to the Working Conditions of Employees Posted to Estonia Act, the Employment Contracts Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act (599 SE), initiated by the Government, will bring Estonian law into conformity with the Posted Workers Directive. The Working Conditions of Employees Posted to Estonia Act will be amended by adding a provision prohibiting unfavourable treatment, which will protect posted workers who turn to a court or administrative authority to protect their rights.
The Bill will also give a construction sector worker an opportunity to require remuneration not only from his or her employer but also from the person who commissions subcontracting from his or her employer. It will be possible to do this in the case when previously he or she has turned against his or her employer with a remuneration claim and the claim has not been satisfied within four months from the commencement of enforcement proceedings. If the total remuneration can be claimed from the employer, the liability of the person who has commissioned subcontracting will be limited to the minimum remuneration, which is currently 654 euro per month. The person who commissions subcontracting will be able to avoid the payment of remuneration if the person can prove that he or she has acted with due diligence.
In addition, the Bill will amend the dates for the establishment of the rates of unemployment insurance premium in the Unemployment Insurance Act. The Government will approve the rates of unemployment insurance premium for four years on the proposal of the supervisory board of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.
The Riigikogu suspended the second reading of two Bills
The Riigikogu continued proceedings on the Bill on Amendments to the Family Benefits Act (619 SE), initiated by 54 members of the Riigikogu. The second reading had been suspended at the review of motions to amend at the end of the spring session.
According to the Bill, the child allowance for the first and second child will rise from 60 euro to 100 euro, that is, to the same level as the child allowance for the third and subsequent children. According to the Bill, the allowance for families with many children will rise from 300 euro to 700 euro per month for families with three to six children, and from 400 euro to 900 euro for families with seven or more children. In order that the allowance for families with many children would continue to be proportional to the rise in the standard of living, and that the amount of the allowance would not need to be changed every year, according to the Bill, the allowance will be indexed by 1 April of each year. The value of the index will depend to the extent of 20 per cent on the annual increase in the consumer price index and to the extent of 80 per cent on the annual increase in the receipt of the pension insurance part of social tax.
At present, the payment of the allowance for families with many children stops when the first child attains the age of majority. In the future, however, according to the Bill, it will be paid in the full amount for as long as the family is raising at least three children who are minors. In the case of families with many children, the allowance will be paid to the extent of two thirds of the allowance if two of the children are minors, and to the extent one third if one child is a minor. Before the second reading, the Social Affairs Committee had amended the Bill by adding a provision under which, in the case of a multiple birth, the allowance for families with many children would be paid until the children attain the age of 21 years. The committee had also made the amendment to the Bill under which the single parent’s child allowance would rise to 40 euro.
During the second reading, a number of motions to amend had been withdrawn, as a result of which less time was required to review them. After the motions to amend had been voted on, the Social Affairs Committee moved to suspend the second reading of the Bill.
The Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (548 SE), initiated by Faction Isamaa, initially provided for lowering the rate of excise duty on unleaded petrol to the minimum level of the European Union, that is, to 359 euro per 1000 litres. The lowering of the excise duty was proposed for one year, that is, from 1 May this year to 1 May 2023.
Before the second reading, the Finance Committee had incorporated into the Bill an amendment involving the entire text of the Bill according to which the excise duty rates on unleaded petrol and diesel fuel would be lowered to the minimum level of the EU. According to an amendment, the excise duty rates on the components of such fuels will also be lowered to the same level. The excise duty rates on fuels comparable to diesel fuel will be adjusted as well. The excise duty on light heating oil will be reduced to a rate equal to the excise duty on diesel fuel, and the excise duty on diesel-like heavy fuel oil and shale-derived fuel oil will fall proportionally to the excise duty on diesel fuel. In addition, according to an amendment, the increases in the excise duty rates for these fuels that have been published but have not entered into force will be cancelled.
During the debate, Martin Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Jaak Aab (Centre Party), Peeter Ernits (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Kalle Grünthal (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Heiki Hepner (Isamaa), Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), Aivar Kokk (Isamaa), Alar Laneman (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) and Rene Kokk (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor.
On the motion of the Finance Committee, the second reading of the Bill was suspended.
The sitting ended at 7.47 p.m.
Photos (Author: Erik Peinar, Chancellery of the Riigikogu)
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu.
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