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The State Budget for 2023 Bill passed the second reading in the Riigikogu today. In addition, parliament adopted five Acts, and concluded the second reading of seven other Bills and the first reading of 15 drafts.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Financial Crisis Prevention and Resolution Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (667 SE), initiated by the Government. It prescribes crisis prevention measures and resolution actions for central counterparties, that is, persons by whose intermediation securities transactions, in particular derivative transactions are carried out. Central counterparties step in between participants to act as the buyer to every security seller and the seller to every security buyer and play a central role in processing financial transactions.

The amendments to the Act are based on the European Union Regulation which aims to regulate, in particular, situations where a central counterparty has run or may run into solvency problems. A wider purpose is to prevent contagion of financial distress to the financial system, that is, to regulate how to most effectively solve such crisis situations while minimising the cost to taxpayers.

64 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and 17 were against.

The Riigikogu passed with 82 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Farm Animals Breeding Act (624 SE), initiated by the Government. It makes the provisions relating to breeding programmes clearer in order to avoid the possibility of narrow interpretation of the Act. The amendments will help better understand that, when describing the content of a breeding programme, the relevant requirements must also be taken into account and, in the event of a violation of the requirements, it is possible to refuse to approve a breeding programme. The amendments are of a technical nature and no new requirements are placed on breed societies.

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Insurance Activities Act and the Law of Obligations Act (647 SE), initiated by the Government. It increases the floors for the Minimum Capital Requirement for insurance undertakings and the thresholds for the definition of the size of a policy holder who is an undertaking. The amendments are based on a notice of the EU regarding the adaptation of the amounts laid down in the Insurance Directive, in line with the inflation. The thresholds must be revised every five years. During the first revision, the period observed was from 31 December 2015 to 31 December 2020.

65 members of the Riigikogu supported the passing of the Act and 15 voted against.

The Riigikogu passed with 79 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act, the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act and the Work Ability Allowance Act (657 SE), initiated by the Government. It links the period for the payment of unemployment insurance benefit with the economic cycles. At present, the period for the payment of the benefit depends only on the length of service of the person and, depending on the length of the service, the benefit is paid for either 180, 270 or 360 days. Such a system has little flexibility, offering weak protection in phases of economic recession and strong protection in phases of economic growth.

According to the amendments, the period for the payment of unemployment insurance benefit also begins to depend partially on the situation in the labour market. When a person applies for unemployment insurance benefit, the period for the payment of the benefit to him or her will be set as 180, 210 or 300 calendar days according to the length of his or her service. Before the end of the period for the payment of the benefit, the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund will calculate the number of registered unemployed and will compare it with the average number of unemployed over the earlier period. If the unemployment indicator reflecting the developments in the economy is low, the period for the payment of the unemployment insurance benefit will not be extended.

Compared with the current Act, the base period for the benefit will shorten by 60 days for people whose insurance period is longer than five years. In the event of the usual level of unemployment, the period for the payment of the benefit to them will automatically extend by 60 days and, in the event of high unemployment, by 120 days. The base period for the payment of the benefit will not change for people whose insurance period is shorter than five years; however, the period for the payment of the benefit to them will not extend in the event of the usual level of unemployment. It will however be extended by 60 days if the economic situation worsens, that is, in the event of high unemployment.

In addition, the Riigikogu passed with 77 votes in favour the Act on the Ratification of the Final Acts of the Extraordinary Congress at Addis Ababa and the Congress at Abidjan (660 SE), initiated by the Government. It ratifies the international agreements adopted at the congresses of the Universal Postal Union amending the Constitution and the General Regulations of the Universal Postal Union and establishing the recast Postal Convention.

The purpose of the amendments is to regulate more clearly the definitions relating to postal services, to make the contributions system more flexible and to specify the functions and requirements of the structural units of the Universal Postal Union. The amendments to the Postal Convention are intended to make the observance of the current rules more understandable and flexible.

Eight Bills passed the second reading

The Bill on Amendments to the Animal Protection Act and the Release into Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms Act (677 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the second reading in the Riigikogu. The processing of animal experimentation project licence applications together with the functions of the protection of experimental animals will be transferred from the Ministry of Rural Affairs to the Agriculture and Food Board who will begin to issue authorisations on the proposal of a relevant evaluation committee. The Bill will also specify the procedure for the publication of non-technical summaries and the retrospective assessment of animal experimentation projects.

The Bill on Amendments to the Cultural Endowment of Estonia Act (720 SE), initiated by the Cultural Affairs Committee, passed the second reading. It will enable the Cultural Endowment of Estonia to support the completion of several cultural construction works of national importance at the same time, instead of two. The Bill provides that the supporting of a cultural construction work lower down the shortlist must not affect the completion of a facility higher up the shortlist.

According to the Bill, it will be possible to support a facility lower down on the shortlist earlier than a facility higher up on the list if the preparation for the facility higher on the shortlist does not allow for a grant to be allocated. A precondition for funding a facility lower on the shortlist will be that this does not affect the completion of a facility higher on the list, that is, the Cultural Endowment has the readiness and possibility to begin to also support the cultural construction work higher up the list.

During the debate, Siret Kotka from the Centre Party Faction took the floor.

The Bill on Amendments to the Employment Contracts Act (625 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the second reading. According to it, employers will have an opportunity to enter into short-term employment contracts with the unemployed in more cases. Such contracts guarantee greater protection to employees than contracts for services and authorisation agreements.

Under the current procedure, it is possible to enter into a fixed-term employment contract successively, i.e., with a less than two-month interval, twice at a maximum, or to extend it once. Due to the restrictive regulation, employers may enter into other contracts under the law of obligations, e.g., authorisation agreements and contracts for services, instead of employment contracts. In such cases, however, the employee remains without labour law protection; for example, the working time limits and the requirements for the minimum remuneration and rest and occupational safety are not applied.

According to the Bill, it will be allowed to enter into up to eight-day fixed-term employment contracts within six months without limits. However, it will have to be taken into account that, if a new fixed-term employment contract is entered into after a six-month period, the contract becomes a contract entered into for an unspecified term.

The Bill on Amendments to the Code of Enforcement Procedure and Amendments to the Act on Amendments to the Code of Enforcement Procedure and the Enforcement Agents Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (648 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the second reading. Its aim is to make the procedure for collecting claims for maintenance more effective.

The Bill will provide for a regulation under which, in the future, maintenance claims that will become due in the future can also be filed to an enforcement agent for compulsory enforcement. The amendments will specify the right of the party seeking collection of maintenance to subject the payment of the maintenance to the constant control of an enforcement agent in the case when the person obligated to pay maintenance does not pay maintenance voluntarily.

The Bill on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act and the Act on Amendments to the Alcohol, Tobacco, Fuel and Electricity Excise Duty Act (705 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the second reading. It will postpone by one year the rises in excise duties that were due in 2023–2026. The pre-crisis level for excise duty rates will be achieved in 2027.

The excise duties for electricity and certain fuels were lowered for two years from 1 May 2020 in order to mitigate the impact that the crisis due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus would have for fuel consumers, and to facilitate economic subsistence. An Act adopted at the end of 2021 provided for a gradual four-year restoration of the excise duties for fuel and electricity to the pre-crisis level starting from 1 May 2023.

According to the Bill, the agricultural sector and oil shale mines will be able to use diesel fuel for specific purposes until 30 April 2024 at the minimum rate of the European Union which is 21 euro per 1000 litres. From 1 May 2024, the rate of excise duty on diesel fuel for specific purposes will rise to 107 euro per 1000 litres for the agricultural sector and oil shale mines will be able to use only diesel fuel taxed at the standard rate.

The Bill on Amendments to the Income Tax Act (706 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the second reading. It will increase the income exempt from income tax from 500 euro to 654 euro per month. Around 368,000 people or 56 per cent of working-age residents will benefit from the amendment. People who earn 654–1200 euro per month will gain most, that is, 370 euro per year, from the amendment of the minimum rate for tax-exempt income.

The amendment will not concern the people receiving the old-age pension. The tax-exempt income to the extent of the average old age pension will begin to apply to them from 1 January and the regressive tax-exempt income system will not apply to their income. The average old-age pension is projected to be 704 euro in 2023.

The Bill will also extend the opportunity for legal persons to make donations and gifts free of income tax for maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine as well as for giving and organising humanitarian aid. It will be possible to make donations free of income tax until the end of next year to NPO Estonian Refugee Council, NPO Mondo, the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, the National Defence Promotion Foundation, the Estonian Red Cross, the Estonian Voluntary Rescue Association and Tallinn Old Town Rotary Club.

The Bill on Amendments to the Funded Pensions Act (707 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the second reading. It will accelerate the reimbursement of the 4% contributions not made during the suspension of contributions to the funded pension from 1 July 2020 to 31 August 2021, which initially was to take place in January of 2023 and 2024 for those who had decided to remain in the second pillar pension scheme. The contributions will be reimbursed to the full extent in one year, in January 2023, instead of two years as initially planned.

The amounts to be reimbursed will be calculated according to the actual contributions but their final amount will become clear at the beginning of January 2023 when the average return of mandatory pension funds in the period from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2022 will be known. If the average return is positive, the amounts reimbursed to members of pension schemes will be increased in proportion to this. The amounts to be reimbursed will be allocated in January and additional pension fund units will be issued to members of pension schemes on account of this.

The State Budget for 2023 Bill (708 SE), initiated by the Government, also passed the second reading. According to it, the next year’s state budget will focus on ensuring Estonia’s security and the coping of people and businesses in the crises caused by Russia’s large-scale war.

Members of the Riigikogu and factions had submitted 56 motions to amend the Bill for its second reading. The Finance Committee incorporated one of them in part and did not incorporate the rest. The Finance Committee made a motion to amend the Bill consisting of several parts containing specifications within and between the areas of government of ministries and two motions to amend one of which concerns the expenditure of the Chancellery of the Riigikogu and another an amendment of the rate of fairway dues.

According to the specified budget, next year, the volume of the revenues of the state budget will be 15.58 billion euro and the expenditure will be 16.81 billion euro. The state will make investments in the amount of nearly 775 million euro, which will be approximately 30 million euro more than this year. The tax burden for 2023 will amount to 33.3 per cent of GDP and the structural budget deficit will remain at 2.6 per cent.

During the debate, non-attached Member of the Riigikogu Siim Kiisler and Jaanus Karilaid, Taavi Aas, Marko Šorin, Erki Savisaar, Tarmo Tamm, Kersti Sarapuu, Tõnis Mölder, Siret Kotka, Dmitri Dmitrijev, Enn Eesmaa, Jaak Aab and Marika Tuus-Laul from the Centre Party Faction, Aivar Sõerd, Jürgen Ligi, Margit Sutrop and Maris Lauri from the Reform Party Faction, Paul Puustusmaa, Siim Pohlak, Kalle Grünthal, Rene Kokk, Leo Kunnas, Peeter Ernits and Mart Helme from the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction and Heiki Hepner from Faction Isamaa and Indrek Saar, Helmen Kütt, Toomas Jürgenstein, Jaak Juske and Raimond Kaljulaid from the Social Democratic Party Faction took the floor.

Motions to amend the Bill for the third reading can be submitted until 30 November at 5.15 p.m.

15 Bills and draft Resolutions passed the first reading

The Bill on Amendments to the Tobacco Act (654 SE), initiated by eight members of the Riigikogu. It will regulate the use of tobacco-free snus and adjust other provisions in order to ensure the safety of products and the availability of compliant and high-quality products for consumers. In the words of the initiators, the amendments will also help reduce the daily passive smoking and move Estonia down from its current third ranking in terms of tobacco deaths in Europe.

Among other things, the Bill will create the possibility for consumers to acquire laboratory-verified flavoured electronic cigarette liquids, will prohibit the sale of tobacco products and products related to tobacco products the packages of which display cartoon characters and toys, and will provide for new rules for national distance sales in order to ensure better opportunities for smokers to quit smoking with the help of less dangerous products.

During the debate, Heiki Hepner from Faction Isamaa and Tõnis Mölder from the Centre Party Faction took the floor.

The Bill on Amendments to the Old-Age Pensions under Favourable Conditions Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (710 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the first reading. It will provide for a reform of old-age pensions under favourable conditions and superannuated pensions. A long-term transition is being planned that will enable to acquire the pension qualifying period lacking for the grant of a pension under favourable conditions or to adapt to the situation and to prepare for a career turn if necessary.

According to the Bill, it will be possible to additionally acquire at least a half of the required favourable pension qualifying period. If the required pension qualifying period for the grant of a pension under favourable conditions is 12 years and six months or less, it will be possible to acquire additional pension qualifying period until 31 December 2030 and, in the case of a longer required pension qualifying period, until 31 December 2036. By way of derogation, in the case of old-age pensions under favourable conditions and superannuated pensions, a longer transition period will be established for the people who are employed in underground mining and surface mining in the extraction, treatment and processing of oil shale. Employment in this sector will be factored into the favourable pension qualifying period until 31 December 2049.

A pension is granted under the current Act in the case when all the requirements provided for in Acts are met, such as the favourable pension qualifying period, the general pension qualifying period, and the age to qualify for pension under favourable conditions. People who have already acquired the favourable pension qualifying period previously will need to acquire no additional pension qualifying period and a pension will be granted to them if they meet all the requirements therefor.

Marika Tuus-Laul from the Centre Party Faction took the floor during the debate.

The Centre Party Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading, but the plenary did not support the motion. 25 members of the Riigikogu supported the rejection of the Bill but 39 were against.

The Bill on Amendments to the Biocides Act and Other Acts (700 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the first reading. It will amend the structure and amount of the state fees and charges in the processing of authorisations of biocidal products. The provisions of the Act will also be brought into conformity with the EU directive concerning the making available on the market and use of biocidal products.

Amendments of technical nature will also be made to the Biocides Act. For example, the provisions concerning the control of harmful organisms that are related to the requirement concerning the availability of the instructions for use of hand disinfectants in public places will be specified to allow for disinfectant dispensers to be filled from open packages in public places.

In addition, the state supervision will be consolidated under specific agencies according to the types and purposes of products. In the case of some products, several agencies currently check the same product. For example, the Health Board checks the effects of the product on health and the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority checks the compliance of product information.

The Bill on Amendments to the Water Act (709 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the first reading. It will transpose the EU directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption. The purpose of the Bill is to reduce the risks to health and environment related to the supply of drinking water, to optimise the costs of handling drinking water and to ensure safe drinking water to inhabitants. Another purpose of the Bill is to increase consumers’ confidence in tap water in order to reduce the manufacture of plastic, to reduce waste generation and thereby to protect the environment.

The Bill will introduce a risk assessment-based approach to the water supply chain. It will also improve people’s access to drinking water and the related information and lay down the requirements for materials that come into contact with drinking water and for water treatment chemicals as well as the requirements for reducing water leakages. Obligations will be provided for drinking water suppliers, owners of public premises, local governments, the Health Board, the Environmental Board, and the Ministry of the Environment.

The Bill on Amendments to the Security Authorities Act and the Estonian Defence Forces Organisation Act (721 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the first reading. It will give the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service and the Estonian Internal Security Service rights to protect their territory and staff in order to enable to adequately respond to threats until the arrival of the police.

Security authorities will be given the right to use law enforcement measures such as questioning, identification of identity and detention of person in the protection of their territory and staff. For this, security authorities will be given the right to use physical force, special equipment as well as a weapon. Direct coercion may be used only with regard to persons who are on the territory of the security authority or in the immediate vicinity thereof and whose activity poses a threat to the staff. A manner of responding that would harm the person posing the threat as little as possible will have to be chosen.

Another major amendment will extend the right of the Defence Forces to organise armed resistance. It is part of military national defence where the efficiency of the organisation of armed resistance depends on peace-time preparations. The Bill also proposes other amendments, for example, provisions will be updated in terms of data protection regulation.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in International Military Operations Led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or its Member State, or the European Union, and other International Military Operations Led by the United Nations, upon the First Contribution thereto” (687 OE), submitted by the Government, passed the first reading. It will enable the use of up to 100 servicemen in international military operations led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or its member state, the European Union, or the United Nations, except in collective self-defence operations, upon the first contribution thereto. Estonia’s specific contribution and the amount thereof will depend on the needs of the specific operation, and the Government will decide it within the limits of the Resolution of the Riigikogu.

The Resolution will ensure Estonia’s capability of deploying units of the Defence Forces to crisis and conflict regions quickly and flexibly where necessary. Similarly to other countries, Estonia is ready to contribute to ensuring international stability and so to also protect Estonia’s security interests.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the European Union Military Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI” (688 OE), submitted by the Government, passed the first reading. It will enable to contribute with up to six servicemen to the operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI in 2023.

The primary aim of the operation is to support the implementation of the UN weapons embargo on Libya. This includes conducting inspections on the high seas off the coast of Libya on vessels which are suspected of carrying arms or related materiel to or from Libya, on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council Resolution. In addition to this, the mission also supports the implementation of UN measures to prevent the illicit export of petroleum from Libya, the capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy, and the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks.

This year, Estonia’s contribution to the operation was two staff officers in the Headquarters of EUNAVFOR MED IRINI in Rome. In view of the significance of the operation in responding to security challenges near the southern borders of the European Union, the limit of servicemen provided in the draft Resolution will enable additional contribution to the operation where necessary.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the European Union Training Mission in Mozambique” (689 OE), submitted by the Government, passed the first reading. It will enable to contribute with up to ten servicemen to the EU Training Mission EUTM Mozambique in 2023. By participating in the mission, Estonia is contributing in solidarity with the other Member States to the EU military operation. It is also important to Estonia to develop cooperation with the strategic allies on the EU’s southern flank.

Estonia was one of the first countries to notify Portugal who was the framework nation of its intention to participate in the mission and Estonia has been contributing to the mission with a legal adviser since the end of last year. The task of the Estonian servicemen is to advise EUTM Mozambique mission commander on legal matters and to train the members of the local armed forces in human rights matters.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the International Military Operation Inherent Resolve” (690 OE), submitted by the Government, passed the first reading. It will enable to participate with up to five servicemen in the US-led international military operation Inherent Resolve in 2023.

The aim of the operation is to fight against ISIL primarily in Iraq and Syria, and one important task also involves training the Iraqi security forces. In supporting the training of the Iraqi security forces, close cooperation is in place with NATO and the Iraqi government. ISIL has been significantly weakened through the actions of the coalition and no longer controls areas in Iraq and Syria, but it remains capable of organising attacks both within the region and across the globe.

By participating in international military operations, Estonia confirms its commitment to contribute to the burden-sharing for the benefit of achieving peace and stability in the world. The participation in the operation of the US-led coalition of will is also supporting the excellent allied relations as well as defence and security cooperation between Estonia and the United States. At the same time, the participation in the operation is also providing a major operational output for the Defence Forces.

In 2023, it is planned to continue contribution to operation Inherent Resolve with a staff non-commissioned officer, but the threshold of the mandate will enable Estonia to additionally contribute to the operation flexibly should the need arise.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Composition of the United Kingdom’s Joint Expeditionary Force” (691 OE), submitted by the Government, passed the first reading. It will enable to contribute with up to 24 servicemen to the composition of the United Kingdom’s Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) in 2023.

The JEF is a coalition of the willing, initiated, owned and led by the United Kingdom, with membership of other countries. JEF brings together like-minded nations with a shared common understanding of threats which is generally ready to contribute quickly and flexibly to operations across the full spectrum of warfare and crisis management, from humanitarian crises to conventional warfare. Nations assign to the JEF high-readiness military capabilities, which form a joint force comprising various armed services under single command.

The JEF is capable of operating on its own or as part of other larger military units. The use of the JEF is flexible – either all or just interested Member States can initiate potential operations and participate in them. Based on the joint decision of the Member States, the JEF focuses on ensuring security in the Baltic Sea region and the North Atlantic Ocean, thereby enhancing the defence and deterrence posture in the Baltic states.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Mission in Iraq” (692 OE), submitted by the Government, passed the first reading. It will enable to contribute with up to five servicemen to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization mission in Iraq in 2023.

NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) is a non-combat advisory and capacity-building mission that aims to address threats to the Alliance from the south more broadly and that assists Iraq in building more sustainable, transparent, inclusive and effective security institutions and armed forces, so that Iraqis themselves are able to stabilise their country, fight terrorism and prevent the return of Daesh. To achieve this, NATO advises Iraqi security structures. NMI advises and provides training but does not deploy its personnel alongside Iraqi forces during combat operations.

The participation in the mission in Iraq provides Estonia an opportunity to actively contribute to grounding the threats to the Alliance from the south, to contribute to NATO’s collective security, and to support allies and partner countries in the fight against terrorism.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Composition of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Readiness Units” (693 OE), submitted by the Government, passed the first reading. It will enable to contribute with up to 285 servicemen to the composition of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) readiness units in 2023.

NATO Response Force (NRF) is a high-readiness unit capable of conducting military operations anywhere in the world. The NRF plays a key role in launching NATO’s short-notice collective defence operations. Ensurance of full manning of the NRF is directly in Estonia’s interests because this ensures NATO’s commitment to deterrence and collective defence.

In addition, Estonia is meeting its allied commitments by having been contributing to the NATO Readiness Initiative (NRI) since the beginning of 2021.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the UN Peacekeeping Operation in Lebanon” (694 OE), submitted by the Government, passed the first reading. It will enable to contribute with up to three servicemen to the United Nations (UN) mission UNIFIL in 2023.

The UN peacekeeping mission plays an important stabilising role in Lebanon and the whole region. The mission is mandated to monitor the situation in the region by contributing to the cessation of hostilities and to the ensurance of international peace and security, and to support the Lebanese government in cementing its governance in the southern part of the country. The UNIFIL’ area of operation is between the Litani River and the Blue Line.

As a country contributing towards collective security, Estonia is closely monitoring the developments in the Middle East, and the security policy impact of the events there on the stability in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Participation in UN operations has been important to Estonia and has been supporting our role as an elected member of the UN Security Council in 2020-2021. The continuing participation of Estonian servicemen in UN operations helps strengthen Estonia’s contribution to UN activities in securing peace.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Extension of the Time Limit for the Use of the Defence Forces in the Fulfilment of the International Commitments of the Estonian State in the Post-Conflict Peacekeeping Operation in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and Syria” (695 OE), submitted by the Government, passed the first reading. It will enable to contribute with up to six servicemen to the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operation in the Middle East in 2023.

UNTSO is the first UN peacekeeping mission that is purely an observation mission. The UNTSO’s area of operation is the Middle East, more specifically Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, and the mission’s headquarters are in Jerusalem. UNTSO’s military observers have been operating in the region over decades, acting as go-betweens for the hostile parties and as the means by which isolated incidents could be prevented from escalating into major conflicts in the Middle East.

Continuing participation in UN operations has been important to Estonia and has increased Estonia’ visibility. The participation of Estonian servicemen in UN operations helps strengthen Estonia’s contribution to UN activities in securing peace.

The Bill on the Accession to the Agreement establishing the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) (715 SE), initiated by the Government, also passed the first reading. According to it, Estonia will accede to the Agreement establishing the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). In 2021, Estonia submitted an application for full membership to the EMBL Council and the EMBL Council approved Estonia’s accession in the same year.

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory is one of the world’s leading international organisations in molecular biology, which promotes cooperation among European countries in the relevant basic research, develops molecular biology knowledge in education, medicine, agriculture, natural environment and other fields and ensures access to the relevant top-level research instrumentation. EMBL is one of the large European international research infrastructures and centres.

Full membership in EMBL will open up new cooperation opportunities to Estonian small and medium-sized enterprises. It will also enable to create direct contacts with the world’s leading large enterprises, like medicine companies, that are part of the EMBL network. Personal medicine (including personal cancer medicine) and the related business is a field that is of interest to Estonia, as well as EMBL’s extensive competence in the analysis of genome data (among other things, cancer cell data), experience in storing data, and technology transfer competence. Estonian researchers will be able to apply and compete for jobs offered in EMBL.

The Bill will enable to economize the funds spent on research as practical trainings and individual development in molecular biology in EMBL laboratories will be open to Estonian researchers. In addition, the costs of doctoral and post-doctoral studies are covered for researchers from Member States. The Agreement will come into force for Estonia on the date of deposit of its instrument of accession.

The sitting ended at 00.07 a.m.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)

The video recording of the sitting will be available to watch later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel. (Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service
Karin Kangro
+372 631 6356, +372 520 0323
E-mail: [email protected]
Questions: [email protected]

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