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Among others, the Bills concerning helicopter emergency medical service operations, the establishment of cultural construction works, social guarantees for freelance creative people, and the production of reclaimed water passed the second reading.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on the Acceptance of Amendments to Articles 1 and 12.1 of the Agreement Establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (352 SE), initiated by the Government. It accepts the amendments to the Agreement Establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which concern the expansion of the geographic scope of the Bank’s operations and the elimination of the capital restriction.

The amendments will expand the Bank’s operations to sub-Saharan Africa and Iraq and will enable these countries to become members of the Bank, to take loans to implement structural and economic reforms and to participate in the Bank’s operations. The second amendment is intended to eliminate the capital restriction laid down in the establishment agreement for the case of ordinary operations of the Bank. This concerns loans granted by the bank, equity investments and guarantees which in total must not exceed the bank’s capital instruments. According to the explanatory memorandum, the amendments to the establishment agreement will involve no additional budget expenditure for Estonia.

At the final vote, 60 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Bill and 14 were against and thus the Bill was passed as an Act.

Three Bills passed the second reading

The Bill on Amendments to the Aviation Act and the Health Services Organisation Act (347 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the second reading. It will establish a clear legal framework for the use of the aircraft of the Police and Border Guard Board. So far, no aviation requirements have been established nationally for the state aircraft of the Police and Border Guard Board and the operation thereof, nor has a decision been made that European Union law be applied to the state aircraft of the Police and Border Guard Board.

The Bill will enable mutual recognition of the airworthiness of the state aircraft of the Police and Border Guard Board. It will also enable as well as flying, maintenance of competence, and training for pilots under civil licence, and will ensure application of aero-medical requirements to flight crews. After a decision on application will have been made, the Transport Administration will also begin to exercise supervision over compliance with civil aviation requirements by the Police and Border Guard Board.

Besides the amendments enabling the state aircraft of the Police and Border Guard Board to comply with the airworthiness requirements of the Basic Regulation of the European Aviation Safety Agency, it will be provided that equivalent requirements will be established nationally in respect of the air operations of the state aircraft of the Police and Border Guard Board. At the same time, this will remedy the legal gap relating to helicopter emergency medical service operations and establish the legal bases for continuing helicopter emergency medical service operations in the country. As regards helicopter emergency medical service operations, it will be provided that it will be the responsibility of the state to organise transport with a helicopter of the Police and Border Guard Board for people who need help in unforeseen situations.

Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor on behalf of his parliamentary group during the debate.

The Bill on Amendments to the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act and the Gambling Tax Act (338 SE), initiated by the Cultural Affairs Committee, also passed the second reading. It will enable the Supervisory Board of the Cultural Endowment to decide on the proposal of the Minister of Culture and with the consent of the Cultural Affairs Committee the funding of yet another cultural construction work of national importance where this does not affect the completion of the facilities that are already on the shortlist.

According to the Bill, the cultural construction works selected will have to be facilities of national importance that fulfil the strategic objectives of the cultural sector and that are significant in terms of national culture. When a building included in the list is completed, it will be permitted to select the next cultural construction work to be supported only after all disbursements towards the previous facility have been made. According to the Bill, the Supervisory Board of the Cultural Endowment will have to submit once a year a written report on the funding of cultural construction works and the state of construction.

The Bill is also intended to support the livelihoods of freelance creative people by guaranteeing them social guarantees. For this purpose, the benefit for creative work paid by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia will be turned into remuneration for creative work. Thus, the Cultural Endowment will also be able to pay remuneration for creative work in the future. At the same time, grants will not be eliminated or taxed. Remuneration for creative work will be formalised as an authorisation agreement which will guarantee the recipient of the remuneration health insurance premiums, pension insurance premiums and unemployment insurance premiums. The remuneration provided for creative work will be divided by the number of months of the creative period and will be disbursed every month so that freelance creative people would get permanent income and social protection.

The Riigikogu passed the Resolution on the approval of the shortlist for the establishment and renovation of cultural construction works of national importance on 13 September 2021 and a shortlist including five facilities was approved: Tartu City Cultural Centre, Narva Kreenholm Cultural Quarter “Manufactory”, Arvo Pärt Music House in Rakvere, an extension to the current building of the Estonian National Opera of Tallinn, and Tallinn film industry hub.

On 23 November last year, the Riigikogu approved an Act that enables to support the completion of several cultural construction works of national importance at the same time, instead of two as is the case at present, where the supporting of the cultural construction work next on the shortlist does not affect the completion of a facility higher up the list and the Cultural Endowment has the readiness to begin to also support the cultural construction work higher up the list.

During the debate Kadri Tali (Estonia 200), Tanel Kiik (Social Democratic Party), Priit Lomp (Social Democratic Party), Priit Sibul (Isamaa) and Andre Hanimägi (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.

Isamaa Parliamentary Group moved to suspend the proceedings on the Bill. Four members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 49 were against. Thus, the Bill passed the second reading.

Lastly, the Bill on Amendments to the Water Act (346 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the second reading. It will include the provisions necessary to produce and use reclaimed water in the Act. The Bill will create the possibility to transfer used water, for example, treated effluent, quarry water, and mining water, after it will have been additionally treated, to businesses who will use it in agriculture, in the creation of green areas, in street cleaning, and in industrial processes. According to the Bill, the production of reclaimed water will require a water permit and the use of reclaimed water will bring about a registration obligation.

The environmental burden of the water discharged into recipients will decrease on account of the water directed to recovery. An average of 2,190 tons of nitrogen and 58 tons of phosphorus are discharged into recipients through outlets in a year. Upon the production and use of reclaimed water, the nutrient load on water bodies will decrease in correlation to how much reclaimed water will be put to use. Less water will be extracted from groundwater and surface water on account of the quantities of reclaimed water which will help save clean water resource.

A Bill passed the first reading

The Bill on the Denunciation of the Agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian Federation on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family and Criminal Matters (362 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the first reading. It will denounce the agreement on legal assistance between Estonia and Russia signed in Moscow in 1993 and entered into force in 1995. The denunciation is motivated by the ongoing military aggression by Russia against Ukraine.

The agreement on legal assistance between Estonia and Russia extends automatically by five years. In order to denounce the agreement, the other party must be notified thereof at least six months before the end of the five-year period. The current five-year period is due to end on 18 March 2025 and thus a note on denunciation must be forwarded to Russia before 18 September.

During the debate, Peeter Tali (Estonia 200), Eduard Odinets (Social Democratic Party) and Valdo Randpere (Reform Party) took the floor.

Five Bills were dropped from legislative proceedings

The Bill on Amendments to the Value-Added Tax Act (286 SE), initiated by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, was intended to lower the VAT rate on foodstuffs to five per cent in order to curb the rise in foodstuff prices.

Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor during the debate.

The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading; 42 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 15 were against. 

The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Estonian Public Broadcasting Act (165 SE), initiated by Members of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal and Alar Laneman, was that the Estonian Public Broadcasting would follow the principle of political balance when producing and transmitting shows and programmes. The bill was also intended to change the exercise of internal control in order to ensure that the requirements arising from the Act are met.

The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading; 41 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 14 were against.

The Bill on Amendments to the Municipal Council Election Act (166 SE), initiated by Members of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas, Helle-Moonika Helme and Mart Helme, was intended to establish a requirement under which people who stand as candidates in municipal council elections would have to be proficient in Estonian at least at C1 level in order to raise the level of Estonian language skills and to ensure that the work of municipal councils would be conducted in Estonian.

During the debate, Anti Poolamets (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) and Eduard Odinets (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.

The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading; 42 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 13 were against.

The deliberation of two Bills was deferred due to the absence of the presenter. They were  the Bill on Amendments to the Municipal Council Election Act and Other Acts (246 SE), initiated by Members of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas, Helle-Moonika Helme, Mart Helme and Jaak Valge, and the Bill on Amendments to the Government of the Republic Act (276 SE), initiated by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group.

The initiators had withdrawn seven bills that had initially been on the agenda for today’s sitting and therefore their first reading could not take place. They were the Bill on Amendments to the Value-Added Tax Act (263 SE) and six Bills on amendments to the Income Tax Act (265 SE, 266 SE, 267 SE, 268 SE, 269 SE, 270 SE).

The sitting ended at 7.17 p.m.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

Video recording will be available to watch later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.

Riigikogu Press Service
Maris Meiessaar
+372 631 6353, +372 5558 3993
[email protected]
Questions: [email protected]

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