The Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) wants to reduce the social benefits for the persons who have been granted international protection by abolishing the obligation of the state to compensate the repair and furnishing expenses of municipal apartments and significantly reducing the obligation to compensate for the rent expenses for housing.
“It is natural that the state helps the refugees who have settled in Estonia get on their feet in their new homeland, but at the same time the paying of such allowances should be based on the principle that a refugee should not have an advantage over the local people,” Chairman of the Constitutional Committee Kalle Laanet said. “The law in force provides unreasonably large benefits for refugees, and this seems unfair in regard to the people who have always lived here.”
The law currently in force provides that, if necessary, the state will compensate for the repair expenses of a municipal apartment given to the use of a person who has been granted international protection in the amount of up to 1.5 times of subsistence level rate per square metre, and the maximum amount of such a benefit per person would be 4,455 euro. At present, the person who has been granted international protection also has the right to receive compensation for furnishing a municipal apartment, and the maximum amount of such a compensation would be 1,690 euro. On the motion of the Constitutional Committee, these benefits would be removed from the Acts.
Besides that, the law currently in force provides that, for up to two years, the state helps the refugees to cover the rent expenses for housing and accompanying expenses, and the expenses relating to the conclusion of rental agreement, and presently such expenses may amount to 30,888 euro per person.
Pursuant to the motion of the Constitutional Committee, the state would support a refugee upon necessity once by compensating the expanses relating to the conclusion of a rental agreement in the amount of up to 6 times of subsistence level rate per family. In that case, the maximum possible benefit per family would be up to 780 euro.
The main objective of the Bill on Amendments to the Act on Granting International Protection to Aliens and Other Associated Acts (81 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, is to transpose the European Union directives on the requirements for granting international protection and receiving of persons applying for international protection. The purpose of the directives is to harmonise the proceedings for international protection by establishing minimum rules for the procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection in the European Union.
The Bill provides for the possibility that the Government may, for example, for humanitarian considerations or for fulfilment of an international obligation, decide to receive an application for international protection outside of Estonia.
The Committee sent the Bill, together with the motion to amend concerning the social benefits for refugees, to the second reading at the 9 March sitting of the Riigikogu.
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