At today’s remote-participation sitting, the Riigikogu passed Acts concerning financial stability, state software, prevention of infectious diseases and non-cash means of payment.
The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Credit Institutions Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (312 SE), initiated by the Government, the main purposes of which are to ensure and increase financial stability, in particular to ensure the integrity and transparency of the banking sector, and to raise the “resilience” of banks (credit institutions) in stress and crisis situations. It also aims to establish more proportionate requirements for credit institutions and to bind the requirements more tightly to the risks assumed by credit institutions.
92 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Act.
The Act on Amendments to the State Assets Act (308 SE), initiated by the Government, provides in the Act uniform and clear bases for granting free use of national software to the public and for cross-use of national software between administrators of state assets.
According to the explanatory memorandum, it has appeared in practice that the current regulation does not take into account the specific aspects relating to the use of (including granting use of) intellectual assets, in particular in transactions relating to software belonging to the state. The current law lacks clear bases for granting free use of software to the public and for simultaneous use of software between administrators of state assets (“cross-use of software”).
92 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Act.
The amendments proposed under the Act on Amendments to the Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Act (347 SE), initiated by the Government, help support the Health Board in resolving health care emergencies, including in the exercise of supervision.
The Act that was in force earlier also provided for the possibility to request disinfection, disinsection, pest control or cleaning to be organised and medical examination to be arranged for, and diagnosis of infectious disease or arrangement therefor to prevent the epidemic spread of infectious diseases. The Health Board and the Government could also oblige hospitals and institutions providing social services to impose visiting restrictions.
Under the Act adopted, in the event of an especially dangerous infectious disease and an unavoidable necessity, the Health Board and the Government can also close institutions or restrict their activities temporarily. Besides setting the conditions for prohibiting meetings and events, the Act also allows requirements to be established for holding them.
The Act allows for the involvement of the police and other law enforcement agencies in the performance of the functions of the Health Board in emergencies and emergency situations related to infectious disease epidemics. Up until now, there has been no regulation of involvement and therefore the Health Board has been able to cooperate with law enforcement agencies only through applications for professional assistance or exchange of officials. The establishment of the regulation will simplify and speed up the involvement. The Government will decide on the involvement of a law enforcement agency at the proposal of the Health Board. The more specific conditions and procedure for the involvement will be established by a Regulation of the Government.
Under the Act that was in force before, breach of quarantine rules was punishable under misdemeanour procedure. However, according to the new Act, an opportunity is also created to hold people liable when they breach the requirements established by the Government or the Health Board, for example the obligation to wear a face mask or the restrictions on movement or the organisation of events. Violation of the requirements for the prevention of the epidemic spread of an infectious disease is punishable by a fine of up to 100 fine units, that is, 400 euro. Legal persons can be punished by a fine of up to 13,000 euro.
During the debate, Priit Sibul (Isamaa), Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Mart Võrklaev (Reform Party), Siret Kotka (Centre Party) and Indrek Saar (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.
56 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Act and 39 voted against.
Under the Act on Amendments to the Penal Code (non-cash means of payment)) (351 SE), initiated by the Government, the European Union directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment and replacing an earlier Council Framework Decision is transposed into Estonian law.
Significant gaps and differences in Member States’ laws in the areas of fraud and of counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment can obstruct the prevention, detection and sanctioning of those types of crime and other serious and organised crimes related to them. This makes police and judicial cooperation complicated and less effective. In view of this, the Council Framework Decision was updated in order to include further provisions on offences in particular with regard to computer-related fraud, and on penalties, prevention, assistance to victims and cross-border cooperation.
The adoption of the new directive also brought about the need to review the national legislation regulating the fight against crime relating to non-cash means of payment in Estonia. Under the Act, among other things, the maximum sanction, that is, imprisonment, for misappropriation is increased from one year to two years. Other amendments to transpose the directive into national law are also made.
90 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Act.
The Riigikogu passed a Resolution
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Approval of “The National Long-term Development Strategy ‘Estonia 2035’”” (262 OE), initiated by the Government, creates a framework consolidating Estonia’s major strategic aims and courses of action agreed nationally and taking account of international obligations; links the long-term strategy with funding, i.e., takes account of the public finance prospects and opportunities and serves as a basis when making budget decisions, including for the planning and use of structural funds; provides a basis for shaping Estonia’s positions in international coordination processes (including at the level of participating in the planning of European Union policy). The strategy creates the conditions for better organisation of the strategic and performance management of the state, including reducing the number of strategy documents and central integration of the UN sustainable development goals into the development documents of the country.
During the debate, Siim Kallas (Reform Party), Jaak Valge (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Leo Kunnas (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Kersti Sarapuu (Centre Party), Alar Laneman (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party), Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits (Isamaa), Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa), Peeter Ernits (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) and Siim Pohlak (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor.
Kunnas moved to suspend the second reading of the draft Resolution on behalf of his faction. 19 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion, 69 were against, and there was one abstention.
71 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Resolution, 18 voted against, and there were three abstentions.
Two Bills passed the second reading
The Bill on Amendments to the Competition Act and Amendments to Other Associated Acts (325 SE), initiated by the Government, will provide a clear domestic legal basis for recovery of unlawful and misused state aid in a situation where the European Commission or the Court of Justice of the European Union has made no such decision. Since no provision of European Union law has explicitly required Member States to recover aid without a decision of the European Commission, until now it was not unambiguously clear to grantors and beneficiaries of state aid whether the recovery of aid on the initiative of an authority of a Member State was a right or a duty of the authority that granted the aid. The explanatory memorandum notes that the Court of Justice had eliminated this ambiguity with a judgment issued in spring 2019 and had confirmed that, if state aid has been granted unlawfully, the authority of the Member State is required to recover the state aid on its own initiative also without relevant proceedings of the European Commission. In such cases, the cases of unlawful aid are identified by the grantor of the aid who also makes a relevant decision on recovery.
The Act provides that there is no obligation to demand recovery of unlawful state aid in the case when the European Commission has retroactively made a decision to declare the unlawful aid compatible with the internal market. At the same time, since the Member State must demand recovery of the interest on the unlawful aid from the beneficiary of the state aid also in the cases when the unlawful state aid has been retroactively declared compatible with the internal market, the Bill will provide an obligation to pay interest and will specify the calculation of the interest rate and the methods for applying interest. The calculation of the interest rate and the methods for applying interest are similar to the case when the obligation to pay interest arises from a request to recover unlawful or misused aid. If the principle for calculating interest that is applied in domestic law is similar to the principle used by the European Commission, this ensures uniformity in the calculation of interest and the application of the method.
The Bill on Amendments to the Code of Misdemeanour Procedure and the Traffic Act (216 SE), initiated by the Legal Affairs Committee, will create legal preconditions for the application of alternative means of deterrence within the framework of alternative proceedings. The amendment will enable to impose a 45-minute “time-out stop” as a deterrent measure on a driver during which the driver is required to stay with their vehicle in a location designated by the out-of-court proceedings authority.
The “time-out stop” will be established as an additional opportunity to affect a person’s traffic behaviour and compliance with speed limits at an early stage when the violation and traffic behaviour errors committed are not yet so serious as to result in a harsh sanction but are still sufficient to warrant attention. According to the Bill, speeders who do not exceed the permitted speed limit by more than 20 km/h will be able to choose a 45-minute “time-out-stop” instead of paying a fine.
The amendments included in the Bill concern the person’s right of action in connection with the application of a deterrent measure. If a person who is released of the payment of a deterrent fine adheres to the conditions of the deterrent measure set out in the decision, they or their representative will have the right, within 15 days as of the receipt of the decision on alternative proceedings, to request that the out-of-court proceedings authority render the evidence in the required form and forward it and to contest the decision on alternative proceedings by filing an appeal with a county court.
It will also be provided that, if a person has not adhered to the conditions of the deterrent measure set out in the decision on alternative proceedings, a relevant notice will be forwarded to the person. The notice will state that the person has not adhered to the conditions of the deterrent measure and consequently they are required to fulfil the obligation to pay a fine as set out in the decision on alternative proceedings delivered to them already when they were detained.
During the debate, Tarmo Kruusimäe (Isamaa) and Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party) took the floor.
The Riigikogu heard a report
Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani presented the Internal Security Development Plan for 2020–2030 in which the aims and courses of action are agreed with a view to keeping Estonia secure in the coming decade.
In Jaani’s words, the person, their life, health and property, and a secure living environment has been put at the centre of security in the development plan. “Our aim is that people feel safe in Estonia and play their part in ensuring that it would be safe in their homes and in the country more generally and that at the same time there would be professional and up-to-date agencies in charge of internal security in our country,” Jaani said.
In the minister’s words, the major amendments that will be necessary to create a secure Estonia over the next ten years have been consolidated into five focuses: creation of a preventive and safe living environment; prompt and professional assistance; secure internal security; efficient population management, and, fifth, smart and innovative internal security.
“The major changes that will need to be made in these sectors in the coming ten years are connected with the involvement of people, targeted prevention activities, preparedness for crises and the development of the information and communication technology capability,” the Minister of the Interior said.
In the minister’s words, people are feeling safe in Estonia: when responding to a public opinion survey in 2020, 92 per cent of people found that Estonia was a secure country to live in, and according to the statistics of 2017 Estonia is seventh in the ranking of sense of security in the European Union. “We are intending to maintain the sense of security at least at the same level in the coming decade, but we are aware that this is a serious challenge in the constantly changing world,” Jaani said.
During the debate, Kalvi Kõva (Social Democratic Party), Marek Jürgenson (Centre Party), Mart Helme (Estonian Conservative People’s Party), Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party) and Alar Laneman (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) took the floor.
The sitting ended at 6.47 p.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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