At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu passed with 83 votes in favour the Railways Act initiated by the Government. It transposes European Union directives into Estonian law and organises the structure of the Act that is currently in force and has been repeatedly amended, and specifies the provisions in force.
The EU directives transposed by the Railways Act (201 SE) are legal acts of the technical pillar of the Fourth Railway Package, which aims to complete the creation of a single European railway market.
The goal of the package is to revitalise the rail sector and to make it more competitive vis-à-vis other modes of transport. The technical pillar is designed to boost the competitiveness of the railway sector by significantly reducing costs and administrative burden for railway undertakings wishing to operate across Europe. For that, it will be possible to apply for licences through the EU Agency for Railways in the future.
The Railways Act also provides for a reduction in the state fee if an application for an act in the railway traffic register is submitted through the electronic service information system of the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority. At the same time, the Act is also amended by including additional fees for example for reviewing applications for changes to the operating licences for the technical maintenance and repair of railway vehicles and the construction of railway vehicles.
In order to disambiguate the issues relating to the building rights and the right of use of railway civil engineering works, the Building Code is amended and the requirements for railway civil engineering works are specified. At the same time, the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority is designated as the competent authority to issue the design criteria for railway civil engineering works.
The following Bill passed the first reading:
The Bill on Amendments to the Animal Protection Act and the Nature Conservation Act (219 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Indrek Saar, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Jürgen Ligi, Signe Riisalo, Yoko Alender, Helmen Kütt, Lauri Läänemets, Siret Kotka, Andrei Korobeinik, Raimond Kaljulaid, Oudekki Loone, Katri Raik, Jüri Jaanson, Toomas Kivimägi, Johannes Kert, Mart Võrklaev, Jevgeni Ossinovski, Kalvi Kõva, Jaak Juske, Riina Sikkut, Heljo Pikhof, Liina Kersna and Madis Milling.
The Bill provides that the breeding and rearing of animals only or mainly for the purpose of obtaining fur would be banned in Estonia. According to the Bill, the Act is planned to enter into force from 1 January 2021 with a transition period for closing down fur farms until 1 July 2023. The initiators are ready to specify the transition deadline during the proceedings.
The explanatory memorandum notes that, on 26 November 2015, a scientific report had been presented at the European Parliament, according to which prohibition of fur farming is the only solution to prevent the serious animal welfare breaches occurring in the fur industry. The report shows that the needs of undomesticated animals cannot be met in any fur farming system. Even the best attempts to meet animal welfare requirements fail to raise animal welfare to a level that the majority of people would consider sufficient.
The prohibition of fur farming has been discussed in Estonia since 2009 when the issue was first raised in the Riigikogu. The Riigikogu plenary voted on prohibiting fur farming in 2017 and 2019. On 10 May 2017, the Bill was rejected at the first reading with 49 votes in favour and 24 against. The second time, at the beginning of 2019, the Bill was dropped with 28 votes in favour and 25 against.
Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party) took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the Atmospheric Air Protection Act (221 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, was dropped from the proceedings. It provided that 100 per cent of the revenues from the auctioning of emissions allowances should be spent to achieve the climate targets. The Environment Committee as the lead committee moved to reject the Bill. 42 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of the motion and 15 were against, and thus the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceedings.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)
The video recording of the sitting can be viewed later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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