At its remote-participation sitting, the Riigikogu passed eight Acts.
According to the Act on Amendments to § 62 of the Code of Misdemeanour Procedure (215 SE), initiated by the Legal Affairs Committee, people who are injured or suffer material damage due to a misdemeanour can examine the information gathered in the misdemeanour proceedings in order that they could better protect their interests.
The amendment gives an opportunity to consider after the examination of the facts of the misdemeanour whether to have recourse to court with a civil action or to try to reach an out-of-court agreement regarding compensation for damage. At present, in order to examine a misdemeanour file, it is first necessary to turn to a court who can request the file. According to the Act, any person who suffers health damage or material damage as a consequence of a misdemeanour, as well as their representative, have the right to examine the entire misdemeanour file after a decision is made in the misdemeanour case as well as after the entry into force thereof. At the same time, the special categories of personal data of other persons such as racial or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, political opinions or health data in the file are not disclosed to the victim.
Where an application is submitted, the body conducting the proceedings issues a copy of the procedural document or the misdemeanour file to the person who has the right to examine it. Besides persons who suffer health damage or material damage as a consequence of a misdemeanour, and their representatives, this right also extends to persons subject to proceedings and their defence counsels. Starting from the 21st page, a state fee of 30 cents must be paid for each page issued.
93 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act.
Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa) took the floor during the debate.
The Act on Amendments to the State Budget Act (356 SE), initiated by the Government, makes amendments that are connected with the implementation of the Act on the State’s Supplementary Budget for 2021.
First, the possibility to conclude a contract under public law related to implementation of a domestic support programme at the expense of the funds of the area of government of a ministry is extended to foundations whose founders include the state. Second, the Act is amended by adding a new section to establish the general conditions for the support programmes intended to mitigate the crisis related to the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
93 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.
Under the Act on Amendments to § 15 of the Military Service Act (324 SE), initiated by the Government, in the future, decisions and other documents will be forwarded to persons liable to national defence obligation electronically through the government portal “eesti.ee” instead of paper. A document will be deemed to be delivered after 30 calendar days have passed from sending. On a reasoned request by a person liable to national defence obligation or on other considerations of the authority who has drafted the document, documents concerning the national defence obligation may also be delivered through another channel or in another way, for example, by post.
86 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the Act and three were against. There was one abstention.
Leo Kunnas (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor during the debate.
The Act on Amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act (349 SE), initiated by the Government, makes amendments to the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act in view of the specifications of the organisation of studies in this academic year which in turn arise from the epidemiological situation due to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Therefore the Act provides specifications from the ordinary conditions for graduation as regards upper secondary school examinations and provides for the opportunity to change the times of holding the examinations and to establish additional times for additional examinations as necessary. It also provides for specifications in the organisation of the assessment of basic school and upper secondary school students for the academic year 2020/2021 and creates the opportunity to use descriptive verbal assessments instead of numerical grades to the extent of the entire basic school and upper secondary school.
According to the Act, the passing of state examinations, internationally recognised examinations replacing them, a school examination of upper secondary school and a student’s research exercise or practical work is not a condition for graduating from upper secondary school in this academic year.
81 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.
During the debate, Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits (Isamaa), Eduard Odinets (Social Democratic Party) and Jaak Valge (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor.
According to the Act on Amendments to the Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act and the Social Tax Act (360 SE), initiated by the Government, the Creative Persons and Artistic Associations Act is amended in order that additional funds could be allocated additionally to the reserve provided for in the Act. The share of creative person engaged in a liberal profession in the creative sector as a whole has increased and the ways of working have changed as well. The target group without a fixed employer is one of the labour market participants in the cultural sector who have suffered most.
The Act enables supports for creative activity to be paid to a greater number of creative persons and, in connection with the coronavirus crisis, the conditions for applying for the support are also mitigated temporarily. Support for creative activity is a support in the amount of the minimum remuneration (584) paid during six months.
The requirement that persons who have received the support for creative activity should not apply for a new support within two years is eliminated until the end of 2021. Such persons are also entitled to receive the support for creative activity in the case when they have received income, work ability allowance or pension for incapacity for work in an amount of up to one support for creative activity in the month preceding the payment of the support for creative activity. Similar amendments were also made to the Act a year ago with the amendments that entered into force in spring 2020 but they were in force during the emergency situation and six months after the end thereof.
Permanent amendments concern the bases for the formation of the support to a creative association. The amendment provides that, in exceptional cases, the reserve of the support for creative activity may be increased from the state budget or the funds allocated therefor by the Government if the amount allocated on the basis provided for by the Act is not sufficient to pay supports for creative activity to those who need help.
Another permanent amendment provides that the Ministry of Culture will process the applications for supports to creative activity by creative persons engaged in a liberal profession who are not members of any creative association, and the ministry will pay the supports as well. Under the current Act, this is the responsibility of creative associations. In addition, the procedure for the payment of social tax in a situation where a creative person is a member of several artistic associations at the same time is specified.
81 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.
During the debate, Üllar Saaremäe (Isamaa) took the floor.
The Act on Amendments to the Health Services Organisation Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (355 SE), initiated by the Government, establishes the legal basis for the implementation of the measures related to the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. The finances for the measures will be ensured with the state’s supplementary budget for 2021.
The Act provides for several regulations relating to COVID-19 that are necessary in order that persons were ensured smooth communication with administrative authorities or ensured the possibility to stay away from work when they are close contacts and to receive sickness benefit already starting from the second day of their sick leave.
The COVID-19 pandemic situation has given rise to the need to ensure a convenient solution by the health information system in order to certify certain confirmations concerning vaccination, a negative test result, etc. (“compliance certificate”). The amendment is among other things also connected with the European Union green digital certificate project.
Many countries have taken measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 that impose certain restrictions on people upon their entry into the country (e.g. obligation to self-isolate) and people must submit various documents such as medical certificates, test results and confirmations to meet different requirements. The scope of the green digital certificate project includes three cases of use: the certification of immunisation and recovery and the confirmation of a test result. Irrespective of the European Union green digital certificate project, Estonia wishes to enable a solution developed from the basis of the health information system data for its citizens. The activity will take place on the basis of the person’s wish (to generate a certificate and to allow it to be viewed or not). The time limits for preserving the data in the information system have been set out in the Health Services Organisation Act and medical data are preserved as a general rule for an indefinite period and a shorter time limit has been provided for for certain data. Since there will be no need to preserve the compliance certificates for an indefinite period, a shorter time limit is set out in the Act.
91 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act. There was one abstention.
During the debate, Helmen Kütt (Social Democratic Party) and Priit Sibul (Isamaa) took the floor.
Under the Act on the State’s Supplementary Budget for 2021 (357 SE), initiated by the Government, the size of the supplementary budget is 641 million euro. It is intended to assist Estonian people, businesses, society and health care system. The package of measures contains funds to pay remuneration support in the economic sectors where the volume of work is decreasing due to restrictions, continuation of the compensation of sickness benefits from the second day of sick leave, additional measures for the maintenance of mental health and for special welfare and rehabilitation, additional funds for medicines, vaccination and crisis management and support measures for the tourism sector, cultural organisers and creative persons. The compensation to the extent of 117 million euro planned for persons who suspend their contributions into the second pillar pension scheme that had not been taken into account in the state budget for 2021 has also been included in the supplementary budget.
Under the amendments included in the Act, funds have been planned for welfare institutions who in connection with COVID-19 cases in their institutions have incurred additional labour costs in 2021 that have not been funded previously from the funds of the reserve of the Government of the Republic. The application for additional compensation for labour cost will be available to welfare institutions where COVID-19 cases have been identified at the location of providing the service, and the first wave of vaccination with two doses has not been carried out in the welfare institution.
The budget funds provided for the mitigation of the crisis for the fisheries sector will also be left in reserve. The budget funds provided for the fisheries sector to mitigate the crisis related to the spread of COVID-19 will be left in reserve in connection with the intention to implement the support measure this autumn. This will give opportunities for partial realisation of the produce accumulated in businesses due to marketing difficulties, should opportunities to market fish products reopen to any extent this summer. For the implementation of the support measure, it will also be necessary to submit an application to the European Commission for permission to grant state aid.
73 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act on the State’s Supplementary Budget for 2021 and nine were against.
During the debate, Kersti Sarapuu (Centre Party), Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa), Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party) and Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party) took the floor.
Under the Bill on the Ratification of the Protocol Amending the Agreement on Social Insurance Provisions between the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Moldova (318 SE), initiated by the Government, the Protocol will update the social insurance provisions between the two countries considering in particular the work ability reform that has been carried out in Estonia because pension for incapacity for work is no longer granted. The Protocol also takes into account the requirements arising from the EU General Data Protection Regulation and on the proposal of the other contracting Party amendments will be made in view of the Moldovan pension system. For example, invalidity pensions have been replaced by pensions for disability there.
The aim of the social insurance provisions is to ensure people pension insurance when they move from one country to the other or when people residing in the contracting party states have worked and acquired pension rights in the respective territories of the states. Under the social insurance provisions, either of the contracting parties awards and pays pension only for its respective insurance periods and regardless of whether the person resides in the territory of one or the other country.
The explanatory memorandum notes that, under the social insurance provisions between Estonia and Moldova, in 2020, Estonian old-age pension was paid to nine pensioners residing in Moldova and, at the same time, Moldova paid old-age pension to ten pensioners residing in Estonia.
87 members of the Riigikogu voted for the Act and there was one abstention.
Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa) took the floor during the debate.
One Bill passed the second reading in the Riigikogu
The Bill on Amendments to the Waste Act and the Packaging Act (190 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the requirements and measures relating to separate collection of waste, extended producer responsibility, waste prevention, the waste management plans of local authorities and the state, and the strengthening of waste recycling, with a view to achieving better results in preparing for re-use and recycling of waste. The wording of the liability provisions and punishment rates will also be specified. The Bill will transpose and ensure compliance with obligations arising from the relevant European Union directives.
20 motions to amend the Bill had been submitted by the deadline. For example, in the course of the second reading, an amendment was incorporated into the Bill that will give local governments the right to organise the handling of excessively filled public packaging waste containers and the packaging waste accumulated around them.
The deadline for entry into force was also changed from 2021 to 1 January 2022 in order that the addressees of the provision would have sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the amendments after the Act enters into force and to take account of the new requirements. According to the Bill, the report for 2020 will be submitted to the packaging register on 1 September 2021.
During the debate, Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) and Andres Metsoja (Isamaa) took the floor.
Two Bills passed the first reading:
The Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (339 SE), initiated by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, will increase the protection of children younger than sixteen years of age from sexual offences.
The explanatory memorandum notes that, based on the Penal Code currently in force, Estonia is among a minority of European Union Member States where an adult person can legally be in a sexual relationship with a minor of at least fourteen years of age. Considering the number of sexual offences against minors among all sexual offences, it is necessary to increase the protection of minors against the crime that has a long-term impact on the development and psyche of children.
During the debate, Kert Kingo (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski (Centre Party), Heljo Pikhof (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.
The Bill on Amendments to the Family Benefits Act and the Employment Contracts Act (300 SE), initiated by the Government, will support the welfare of families with children. The bases for calculating the amount of parental benefit will be changed for a specified period of time in order to mitigate the socio-economic impacts for families with children when the amount of parental benefit decreases because a person becomes unemployed due to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
According to the Bill, the period when the person is registered as unemployed with the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund will be excluded from the period of the calculation of the amount of parental benefit. According to the current regulation, only the time for which a certificate of incapacity for work is issued to the person is excluded from the relevant calculation period.
The Bill provides that the changing of the bases for calculating the amount of parental benefit is a measure for a specified period that is applied in the calculation of the amount of the parental benefit granted for children born in the period 1 January 2021 to 21 December 2023. As the amount of parental benefit is calculated on the basis of the calculation period that is 21 months before the birth of the child from which the period of pregnancy, that is, nine months has been deducted, the period from 1 March 2020 to 28 February 2023 remains within the calculation period of parental benefit in the case of children born in the abovementioned period.
According to the Bill, if a person is unemployed due to the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, and is registered as unemployed, this will not affect the amount of their parental benefit. The affected target group constitutes approximately three per cent of the families who have children.
Three Bills were dropped from the proceedings of the Riigikogu:
The Bill on Amendments to the Health Insurance Act and Other Acts (341 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction and Member of the Riigikogu Raimond Kaljulaid.
The Bill will amend the Health Insurance Act by adding a new additional insured event of temporary incapacity for work which is infection with the new dangerous infectious disease COVID-19 in the event of which the insured person will be entitled to receive sickness benefit as of the first day of release from work to the extent of 100 per cent of the person’s income. Among other things, the fixed-term regulation of the payment of sickness benefit that entered into force on 1 January this year will be established for an unspecified term as as of today it is not known when the virus outbreak will subside.
The explanatory memorandum notes that the aim of the amendments made by the Bill is to prevent the infection of working-age people and to prevent workplace-based centres of infection.
The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. With 60 votes in favour, 26 against and one abstention, the Bill was dropped from the proceedings.
Jevgeni Ossinovski (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the Health Insurance Act (330 SE), initiated by the Faction Isamaa.
The Bill provides that sickness benefit will be paid to an insured person in the event of quarantine except in the cases when a quarantine has been imposed on the person on the basis provided for by § 27 of the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act and because he or she has refused to be diagnosed for infectious diseases and the requirement of diagnosis had been established as a precondition for the person’s entry into the country or as an obligation to undergo diagnosis immediately after they enter the country.
The explanatory memorandum notes that, in order to prevent more extensive restrictions on cross-border movement, it will be relevant to establish a blanket testing principle. The Scientific Advisory Board had also supported this principle. Such a system has not been implemented earlier because the Health Insurance Act provides for the imposition of a quarantine covered by sickness benefit when the person refuses to be diagnosed. At the same time, in the case of a reverse self-isolation system, no sickness benefit is paid for the period of self-isolation.
The enabling of such a system places the main emphasis on the imposition of blanket testing in cross-border movement and abandons the legal possibility to apply for harmonisation of rules above all with the countries in our region.
The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. With 58 votes in favour and 28 against, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceedings.
Priit Sibul (Isamaa) took the floor during the debate.
The Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (331 SE) initiated by the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, will amend the regulations of the Penal Code so that essentially the situation preceding 1 January 2015 will be restored when the Penal Code contained provisions on compulsory dissolution of legal persons.
The explanatory memorandum notes that the Bill is intended to create an opportunity to liquidate legal persons, including political parties in the case when they commit acts of a criminal nature.
The lead committee moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. With 58 votes in favour and 30 against, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceedings.
During the debate, Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa) and Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor.
Wednesday’s remote-participation plenary sitting of the Riigikogu started with interpellations that had been transferred from Monday’s sitting and that had not been discussed either due to the end of the working hours of the plenary sitting on Tuesday.
Minister of Finance Keit Pentus-Rosimannus replied to the interpellation concerning the planning of tax policy (No 54), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Raimond Kaljulaid, Indrek Saar, Ivari Padar, Heljo Pikhof, Lauri Läänemets and Eduard Odinets.
Among other things, the interpellators wished to know if the Ministry of Finance had analysed what property taxes there could be in Estonia. They asked for an overview of issues relating to land tax and mass valuation of land.
The minister replied that the current Government was not planning to establish new taxes and nor had any analyses to establish new property taxes been made in the Ministry of Finance in recent years. In the minister’s words, nor has the potential establishment of a real estate tax or car tax found support in Estonia and no separate analysis concerning them has been made either.
Regarding land tax, the minster replied that the following term for the valuation of land was 2022 when the tax rate in place would decrease. A relevant Bill is being prepared and the Government will submit it to the Riigikogu very soon. In the case of residential land as well as in profit yielding land, the maximum rate will remain at 0.5 per cent and the maximum annual limit for the growth of land tax is ten per cent. This means that land tax cannot grow by more than 10 per cent compared to the previous year. According to the Bill, the current system will also continue where land under homes is exempt from tax to the current extent.
During the debate, Raimond Kaljulaid and Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa) took the floor.
Members of the Riigikogu Ruuben Kaalep, Paul Puustusmaa, Jaak Valge, Urmas Reitelmann and Alar Laneman asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs a question about Estonia’s policy in China. They wished to know, among other things, what information the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had about the freedom of belief and conviction and the situation of the rights of indigenous peoples in China and what detailed steps Estonia was planning to take to draw attention to the violations of international law committed by the People’s Republic of China.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets said in her reply that the promotion and protection of human rights continued to be a cornerstone and priority of the external action of Estonia and the European Union. In the minister’s words, Estonia is constantly acting to ensure that serious human rights violations do not remain without attention or condemnation.
The minister specified that, in the case of the People’s Republic of China, Estonia attached importance to the information that it received from its embassy located in Beijing that was analysing daily the events in the host country and was constantly forwarding information on all topical issues. Estonia as a Member State of the European Union also has access to the information mediated by the representation of the Union in Beijing.
In the words of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Estonia’s position has always been that human rights are universal and adherence thereto is not merely a domestic matter of any one country. In her words, the ‘one China’ policy does not release countries from their obligation to follow international law and to ensure fulfilment of international obligations under the UN Charter and international agreements that the People’s Republic of China is a party to as well. “Estonia has consistently drawn attention to violations of international law and will continue the relevant activity,” Liimets confirmed.
During the debate, Ruuben Kaalep (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa) and Raivo Tamm (Isamaa) took the floor.
Members of the Riigikogu Ruuben Kaalep, Kalle Grünthal, Mart Helme, Helle-Moonika Helme, Leo Kunnas and Anti Poolamets asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs a question about adherence to the principles of democracy and the rule of law in the European Union and wished to know, among other things, what assessment Estonia gave to the political trials that were taking place in Spain and the political persecution of the leaders of the Catalan independence movement and with what measures Estonia was standing for the rights, including the right to self-determination of indigenous people in Catalonia.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets said in her reply that Spain was a democratic country governed by the rule of law and therefore there was no doubt that the country’s internal political disputes would find a democratic solution according to the legislation in force and the Spanish Constitution.
Liimets said that Estonia supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Spain. “Catalonia is an autonomous region of a democratic country and all processes of striving for greater autonomy must accordingly take place democratically and in adherence to Spanish laws, in adherence to the principles of the rule of law and they must be based on the constitutional process of Spain,” Liimets said.
During the debate, Ruuben Kaalep (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Jüri Jaanson (Reform Party) took the floor.
The sitting ended at 1.23 a.m.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)
The video recording of the sitting will be available on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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