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Minister of Economic Affairs and Information Technology Tiit Riisalo made a report to the Riigikogu and gave an overview of the implementation of the long-term national development strategy “Estonia 2035” in his field.

The Minister noted that the most important issue now was to provide military assistance to Ukraine, to support their journey to the European Union and NATO, and to help rebuild the country, but he admitted that at the same time Estonia had to grow and develop. Riisalo pointed out that the document “Estonia 2035″ set targets for the ministry headed by him in the fields of economy, digital development, and labour market.

According to Riisalo, the target has already been reached or is close to being reached in several areas. “Estonia’s labour force participation rate has never been so high. Last year it rose to 73.9%, well above the target of 72.1% set for 2035,” the minister said. “Satisfaction with public digital services has increased from 69% in the last two years to 83% last year. Even though the bar will be high – 90 percent – by 2035, we are moving in the right direction,” Riisalo pointed out.

The admitted that there were challenges as well, such as the gender pay gap, R&D investments, and labour productivity. According to Riisalo, the bar needs to be set higher and more effort is needed to achieve the targets. He pointed out that Estonia’s economic plan aimed to increase the competitiveness of the economy and to double the size of the Estonian economy by 2035.

Riisalo also spoke about the need to cut red tape, labour policy, including the shortage of qualified labour, and the Bill aimed at alleviating it. He also touched on the importance of exports and investment, the country’s courage to take risks, the role of knowledge and technology in economic development, and the optimal use of resources and the importance of clean energy.

According to the minister, three indicators will be used to monitor the development of digital society: the level of satisfaction with digital services, the proportion of people who refrain from communicating electronically with the public sector or a service provider to avoid security risks, and the proportion of Estonian businesses and households who have an opportunity to subscribe to internet connections of at least 100 Mbps, which can be increased to up to 1 Gbps. “Satisfaction with public services and internet access has grown strongly year on year, and last year was no exception. However, there has been a big increase in the number of people avoiding electronic communication because of security risks,” he said.

In conclusion, the Minister assured that Estonia was on the right track in achieving the goals of the development document “Estonia 2035”, but he stressed that it was important to set ambitious goals and to work to achieve them.

During the debate, Andres Sutt took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Reform Party Group, Aivar Kokk on behalf of Isamaa Parliamentary Group, Priit Lomp on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Group, Aleksei Jevgrafov on behalf of the Estonian Centre Party Group, Tarmo Tamm on behalf of Estonia 200 Parliamentary Group and Anti Poolamets on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Group.

The Riigikogu expanded the opportunities to send threat alerts

The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Electronic Communications Act and the Nature Conservation Act (392 SE), initiated by the National Defence Committee. Its aim is to amend the legislation so that a danger area-based danger message could be transmitted not only during emergency response exercises, but also during military trainings, i.e. reservist training, large-scale exercise, and additional reservist training. The additional basis will allow for better preparation for responding to events threatening the life and health of people or national security also in the case when the exercise is organised with the aim of preparing the military defence of the country.

The Act also enables practising certain real capabilities, such as the installation and removal of engineer bridges on rivers, in order to carry out military training more efficiently and to achieve the national defence objective. A legal basis is created for the Environmental Board to grant consent to the Defence Forces using the limited management zones of shores and banks for carrying out reservist trainings.

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

Two Bills passed the first reading

The Credit Collectors and Purchasers Bill (376 SE), initiated by the Government, regulates the activities of debt collection agencies engaged in credit agreements and the persons linked to them and will bring the activities of debt collection agencies under the control of the Financial Supervision Authority. When the Act enters into force, debt collection agencies will have to begin to apply for an authorisation from the Financial Supervision Authority and the Financial Supervision Authority will receive powers to exercise supervision over credit collectors.

In addition to the right of supervision, the Bill will also give the Financial Supervision Authority various sanctioning powers starting from issuing precepts to misdemeanour proceedings. It will be possible to impose a fine of up to three million euro.

The Bill provides that the minimum capital requirement for a debt collection agency is 25,000 euro and provides for the rules as to how credit collectors will have to hold “the funds received from debtors”. Integrity requirements for managers and owners of credit collectors will also be provided. A requirement will be established that persons who have earlier engaged in usury which at the moment means granting a loan with an interest of approximately more than 51% cannot manage a credit collector or be a member of the supervisory board of such an agency.

The scope of regulation of the Bill includes debt collection agencies that are engaged in the collection of debts arising from loans granted by banks and other creditors, or in the factoring of such debts. It is expected that the Act will apply to a larger part of the Estonian debt collection market, estimated at seven to eight debt collection agencies operating in Estonia.

During the debate, Aivar Kokk took the floor on behalf of Isamaa Parliamentary Group.

The Market in Crypto-assets Bill (398 SE), initiated by the Government, will bring crypto-asset service providers as well as issuers of crypto-assets under the supervision of the Financial Supervision Authority. Last year saw the entry into force of a corresponding EU regulation, the MiCa Regulation, which sets Union-wide rules for market participants to operate in markets in crypto-assets. This allows crypto-asset service providers to offer their services under the same rules in all Member States. The new Act will ensure proper national implementation of the Regulation.

The aim of the Mica Regulation is to support innovation and fair competition, while at the same time ensuring adequate investor protection and the integrity of crypto asset markets. MiCa regulation regulates for example the granting of authorisation to participants in markets in crypto-assets, the organisation of their management, the requirements for capital, the obligation to act honestly, fairly and professionally in the best interests of clients, safekeeping of clients’ crypto-assets and funds, complaints-handling, and management of conflicts of interest.

At present the crypto-asset service is called virtual currency service. In the future, instead of virtual currency, a broader definition of crypto-asset will be in place and in order to continue activities in the field, they will have to be brought in line with the requirements arising from the MiCa regulation and a crypto-asset service authorisation will have to be obtained from the Financial Supervision Authority. The Bill also provides additional provisions for the exercise of supervision which are analogous to the regulations provided in other Acts concerning the financial sector and thereby equal treatment of asset classes will be ensured.

Crypto-asset in the broadest sense is a digital representation of a value or of a right whereby distributed ledger technology is generally used to store such assets. Depending on the function of crypto-assets such assets are called tokens or coins in practice. Terms like cryptocurrency and virtual currency can all be classified as crypto-assets and sub-categories of crypto-assets.

During the debate, Anastassia Kovalenko-Kõlvart from the Estonian Centre Party Group and Aivar Kokk from Isamaa Parliamentary Group took the floor.

The Estonian Centre Party Group moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. Five members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 46 voted against. There were two abstentions. Thus, the motion was not supported, and the first reading of the Bill was concluded.

The deliberation of a Bill was adjourned

The first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Act on Introduction of Euro and to Other Associated Acts (399 SE), initiated by the Government, was adjourned due to the end of the working hours of the sitting and will continue at the sitting starting at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Bill 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.

Photos (Author: Erik Peinar / Chancellery of the Riigikogu)

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]