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At its sitting today, the Riigikogu passed five Acts. Among other things, they allow the children of Ukrainian war refugees who have left Estonia to be excluded from school, make the functioning of the central bodies of the Defence League more flexible and facilitate support to Ukraine.

The Act on Amendments to the Preschool Child Care Institutions Act, the Vocational Educational Institutions Act and the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (231 SE), initiated by the Government, allows the children of Ukrainian war refugees who have left Estonia without informing their school or preschool to be excluded from school and preschool.

At present a child who has left Estonia and who is no longer participating in teaching and education activities can be excluded from a preschool or school only on the basis of the request of a parent of the child. The Act creates an additional basis that also enables a child to be excluded from a pre-school child care institution, a general education school as well as a vocational educational institution without the request of a parent if the child is not actually staying in Estonia and the data on their place of residence in Estonia are not in the population register.

At the same time, the Act includes in the Preschool Child Care Institutions Act and the Vocational Educational Institutions Act a comprehensive list of the bases for the exclusion from preschool or vocational school. No such list or clear bases for exclusion have been provided for in these Acts at present.

70 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Estonian Defence League Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (335 SE), initiated by the Government, updates the legal regulation related to the Estonian Defence League. The Act makes the functioning of the central bodies of the Defence League more flexible and creates an opportunity to respond more operationally to the needs of increased defence readiness, a state of war, an emergency situation, a state of emergency, mobilisation, and demobilisation.

The Act allows active members of the Defence League to store more ammunition at home with a view to increasing response capability. At present, the amount of the ammunition that an active member is permitted to acquire and store together with a weapon depends on the purpose of the weapon and in the absence of other purposes they are permitted to store 200 cartridges together with a weapon and up to 5000 cartridges for use in shooting sports. According to the Act, an active member of the Defence League will be permitted to store 5,000 cartridges per weapon together with a weapon or 10,000 cartridges per place of storage, and the amount of propellant contained in cartridges may not exceed 50 kg.

At the same time, stricter requirements are established for places of storage and the supervision thereof. Besides that, if an owner of a weapon wishes to participate in national defence with a weapon, they have an obligation to apply for the notation concerning national defence provided for in the Weapons Act.

Guards of the Estonian Defence League and persons participating in guarding are given the right to use electric shock weapons. This will allow for safer response in places where the use of a firearm may be dangerous to other people present, for example indoors. Active members of the Defence League are also allowed to use, when performing their duties, personal weapons that have been entered in the Register of Service and Civilian Weapons as hunting firearms. The checking of compliance with health requirements for members of the Defence League is simplified as well.

During the debate, Leo Kunnas took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Parliamentary Group, Meelis Kiili on behalf of the Estonian Reform Party Group and Peeter Tali on behalf of Estonia 200 Parliamentary Group.

69 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.

The Act on Amendments to the Income Tax Act (337 SE), initiated by the Finance Committee, changes the conditions for deducting training expenses from the taxable income of a natural person and extends the possibility to make donations and gifts  to support Ukraine exempt from income tax.

The Act also changes the right to deduct the expenses related to the extracurricular education of young people in the case of students over 18 years of age. According to the Act, the expenses of studying at a hobby centre can be considered training expenses until the student graduates from basic school or secondary school or completes their formal vocational education or is excluded from the list of the school. Currently expenses paid for studies at a hobby centre can be deducted in case a person studying at a hobby centre is below 18 years of age on 1 January of the calendar year of the payment of the training expenses.

The Act extends until 31 December 2025 the possibility to make donations and gifts exempt from income tax for the purpose of maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and for providing and organising humanitarian aid purposefully. Resident legal persons can make donations and gifts free of income tax 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 NPO Tallinn Old Town Rotary Club. The amendment is implemented retroactively as of January 2024.

NGO Slava Ukraini will be omitted from the list of associations from next year.

During the debate, Kristo Enn Vaga took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Reform Party Group.

63 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.

The amendment to a European Union directive transposed with the Act on Amendments to the Tax Information Exchange Act, the Taxation Act and the Income Tax Act (379 SE), initiated by the Government, imposes an obligation on certain type of large groups to disclose information on income tax paid and related background information in a separate report. The directive is intended to make the activities of multinational groups more transparent and to fight tax evasion.

The amendment concerns multinational groups operating in Europe whose revenue exceeds for two consecutive financial years a total of 750 million euro. Since there are few such enterprises in Estonia and they are already submitting relevant reports to the Tax and Customs Board, establishment of separate reporting through the Accounting Act would essentially give rise to double reporting. Therefore, the directive is transposed through amendment of tax legislation by giving the tax authority the power to disclose online the reports they have already received. The deadline for the transposition of the directive was June last year.

The EU directive on ensuring a global minimum level of taxation for multinational enterprise groups and large-scale domestic groups is also transposed. For smaller states with less than twelve ultimate parent entities of multinational groups a derogation has been provided according to which such countries will not have to apply the minimum tax during the first six years, that is, before 2030, in order to reduce the administrative burden. As there are five ultimate parent companies of multinational groups in Estonia as of 2022, Estonia will also apply this derogation.

58 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act and five voted against.

The Act on the Ratification of the Air Services Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Korea (357 SE), initiated by the Government. The Government approved the agreement last October. The Act creates a legal basis for having an air service between Estonia and Korea and this involves ensuring mutual access to routes and ensuring equal opportunities for airlines, as well as non-discrimination taking into account the principles set out in the European Union Treaties.

On the basis of international law, interstate air service can take place on the basis of bilateral agreements. According to the explanatory memorandum, the conclusion of an agreement for the operation of air services with Korea will widen aviation opportunities for Estonia and the European Union as a whole.

63 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.

Four Bills passed the second reading

The Bill on Amendments to the Health Insurance Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (prevention of incapacity for work) (377 SE), initiated by the Government, will enable people who are on a long-term sick leave to continue working under adapted conditions. Under the current Act, a person who is on a sick leave must not work or earn income subject to social tax in the period of release from work specified in their certificate for sick leave.

According to the Bill, employees can work, after they have been on a sick leave for 60 days, under conditions adapted to their health on the basis of their certificate for sick leave, for example part-time or by performing lighter tasks. During the time a person works on the basis of a certificate for sick leave, they will be able to receive labour market services supporting their capacity for work, and a benefit from the Estonian Health Insurance Fund to compensate for the decrease in their remuneration. The amendment will be made because, every year, an average of 17,000 employees have temporary incapacity for work lasting for more than 60 days, and an estimated 5,000 of them would use the opportunity to work while they are on a sick leave, and approximately 1,800 would need supporting services for that.

In addition, the amendment will enable a care leave of 60 days for parents whose children get a diagnosis of a severe illness. Currently parents are entitled to a care benefit for up to 14 calendar days when their child falls ill. As an exception, parents receive a care benefit for up to 60 days if their child has a malignant tumour and the treatment of the child commences in a hospital.

The Bill on Amendments to § 11¹ of the Identity Documents Act (256 SE), initiated by the Government, will make it possible for the persons who find themselves without a valid travel document in a foreign country to obtain a certificate of return or a permit of return necessary for returning to Estonia without appearing in person in a foreign mission or honorary consulate of Estonia. The Bill will create the possibility to check the identity of an applicant from a distance and to deliver a certificate of return or a permit of return to a person by express mail. The amendment will simplify the provision of consular assistance in 24 countries where Estonia and no other European Union country have foreign missions.

The Bill on Amendments to the Electricity Market Act and Other Acts (termination of the universal service and the ensuring of security of supply) (351 SE), initiated by the Government, will enable termination of the provision of the universal service in electricity sale and will strengthen security of energy supply.

Universal service was set up to put a cap on the price of electricity and thereby protect people from the very high electricity bills of two winters ago. By now, electricity prices have fallen and people who are still using the universal service have found themselves in a worse situation compared to those who buy electricity at the exchange price. Termination of the service will bring down the price of electricity for them. The Bill provides for the termination of the universal service from 1 July this year.

With the Bill, a legal framework for the introduction of a reserve capacity mechanism for electrical energy will be created, the administrative costs related to the LNG loading quay and infrastructure will be included in the strategic gas stocks payments, and the Competition Authority will be given the right to initiate misdemeanour proceedings if a seller is found to have resold gas acquired from the strategic gas stock to a consumer at a price higher than its acquisition price.

In the course of the second reading, the Bill was amended by adding a provision aiming to ensure that the provision of universal service is not interrupted. In the event of the failure of a procurement, the amendment will enable the distribution network operator to nominate a temporary seller of electricity until a seller of electricity is found by public procurement.

During the debate, Mart Maastik took the floor on behalf of Isamaa Parliamentary Group.

The Bill on Amendments to the Precious Metal Articles Act, the State Fees Act and the Equipment Safety Act (363 SE), initiated by the Government, will eliminate the restrictions that have become unreasonable for manufacturers, importers and sellers of articles of gold and silver.

At present, manufacturers and importers of articles of precious metal must affix their sponsor’s marks to articles which must be entered in the state register of sponsor’s marks. The Bill will enable the data concerning sponsor’s marks to be submitted electronically and will extend the validity of the registrations of sponsor marks from one year to ten years. The Bill will also eliminate the requirement to submit physical samples and will reduce the volume of the data presented in sales documents. For example, it will no longer be mandatory to present the mass of articles.

In addition, the Bill will repeal the restrictions on the retail of articles of precious metal. The explanatory memorandum notes that currently, for example, watches made of precious metal and gold jewellery must not be sold in street trading, on markets, in doorstep sales, at public events or in stands. In the future, this will however be permitted.

The state fee for the registration of sponsor’s marks will also be increased from 20 to 30 euro, and the rate of non-compliance levy which was established in 2004 will be increased from 640 to 9,600 euro. The registration of sponsor’s marks will be transferred from Metrosert Ltd to the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority which has better technological capacity and practical competence for this.

Two Bills passed the first reading

The Bill on Amendments to the Act on Introduction of Euro and to Other Associated Acts (399 SE), initiated by the Government, will establish mandatory rounding rules for one- and two-cent euro coins. This means that, in the case of cash payments, the merchant will have an obligation to round the cost of the shopping basket up or down to the nearest five cents. The final purchase amounts ending in one-, two-, six- or seven-euro cents will be rounded down and amounts ending in three-, four-, eight- and nine-euro cents will be rounded up.

The amendment will reduce the need to produce more one- and two-cent coins. At present people receive such coins as change in shops but they make very little use of them themselves when buying. As a result, most coins fall out of circulation and the need to produce more arises. However, the production and handling costs of low denomination coins are disproportionately high compared to their value and the environmental impact of their production and handling is high.

The Bill on Amendments to the Competition Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (384 SE), initiated by the Government, will transpose into Estonian law the European Union directive intended to establish functioning competition supervision in the European Union. It is intended to strengthen competition supervision in order to ensure fairer prices and a wider choice of goods with better quality for consumers.

The most important part of the amendment of the Act is to establish a comprehensive regulation of competition supervision proceedings. The Competition Authority will be the body conducting competition supervision proceedings. The new proceedings will help the Competition Authority to improve supervision because the investigation measures in the proceedings have been developed specifically for the investigation of infringements of competition law. When an infringement of competition law is found, the undertaking or association of undertakings that committed it may be imposed a fine of up to ten per cent of the total worldwide turnover of the undertaking or association of undertakings in the business year preceding the application of the fine. Procedural acts typical of criminal proceedings, such as covert operation and arrest, cannot be used in competition supervision proceedings.

Competition supervision proceedings will help create and maintain a free market which facilitates innovation and will make undertakings more competitive in foreign markets.

During the debate, Jaanus Karilaid took the floor on behalf of Isamaa Parliamentary Group, Toomas Uibo on behalf of Estonia 200 Parliamentary Group and Anastassia Kovalenko-Kõlvart on behalf of the Estonian Centre Party Group.

Isamaa Parliamentary Group and the Estonian Centre Party Group moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. Six members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 50 voted against. Thus, the motion was not supported, and the first reading of the Bill was concluded.

Four draft Resolutions were dropped from the proceedings

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making a proposal to the Government of the Republic to initiate  legislative acts  to ensure that school network will be designed understandably and with advance planning” (285 OE), initiated by Isamaa Parliamentary Group, was intended to task the Government with drafting legislative acts that would give local governments in low density areas confidence that necessary small schools can be maintained.

During the debate, Tõnis Lukas took the floor on behalf of Isamaa Parliamentary Group.

At the final vote, 17 members of the Riigikogu supported the draft Resolution. A majority of the votes of the membership of the Riigikogu, that is, at least 51 votes in favour, would have been needed for the Resolution to be passed.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making a proposal to the Government of the Republic to initiate an amendment of the Traffic Act with the aim of allowing longer combinations of vehicles with a larger maximum mass in traffic in order thereby to increase the efficiency of road transport“ (278 OE), initiated by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, was intended to allow longer combinations of vehicles with a larger maximum mass on Estonian roads in order to increase the efficiency of road transport. The explanatory memorandum pointed out that the amendment would help alleviate the shortage of truck drivers, benefit the agriculture and forest sector and the area of transport more generally as well as have a positive impact on the transport costs of goods for final consumers.

During the debate, Arvo Aller took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group.

At the final vote, 15 members of the Riigikogu supported the draft Resolution. A majority of the votes of the membership of the Riigikogu, that is, at least 51 votes in favour, would have been needed for the Resolution to be passed.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Making a Proposal to the Government of the Republic to liquidate the Russian versions of the home pages of ministries and other government agencies” (365 OE), submitted by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, was intended to  liquidate the Russian versions of the home pages of ministries and other government agencies so that Estonian would be the language used in the public space and Estonian society and proficiency in the official language would improve.

During the debate, Margit Sutrop took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Reform Party Group and Mart Helme on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group.

At the final vote, 13 members of the Riigikogu supported the draft Resolution. A majority of the votes of the membership of the Riigikogu, that is, at least 51 votes in favour, would have been needed for the Resolution to be passed.

The Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Formation of a Riigikogu committee of investigation to investigate the facts of the Estonia-based business activities relating to Russia during the war in Ukraine” (371 OE), submitted by Isamaa Parliamentary Group, was intended to establish a committee of the Riigikogu with the task of ascertaining what Estonia-based business activities with Russia had been conducted during the war in Ukraine and if the business activities supporting Russia’s war had been conducted legally. It was also intended to make a proposal to the Government to develop a policy in this issue, including at the level of cooperation between the European Union and border countries.

The lead committee moved to reject the draft Resolution at the first reading. 40 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and five voted against. Thus, the motion was supported, and the draft Resolution was dropped from the legislative proceedings.

The deliberation of two drafts was deferred

The first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Security Authorities Act  (330 SE), initiated by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group, and  the Bill on Amendments to the Police and Border Guard Act (370 SE), initiated by Member of the Riigikogu Kalle Grünthal, was cancelled due to the absence of the presenter.

The sitting ended at 6.42 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
Merilin Kruuse
+372 631 6592, +372 510 6179
[email protected]
Questions: [email protected]

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