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Estonia: The Riigikogu ratified the International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks

NordenBladet — At today’s sitting, the Riigikogu ratified the Convention that establishes uniform international rules for the removal of hazardous wrecks and payment of compensation for the costs therein involved.

Under the Act on the Ratification of the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007 (123 SE), initiated by the Government, owners of ships of 300 gross tonnage and above are subject to the requirement of compulsory insurance to ensure the costs of removing hazardous wrecks. The Convention does not apply retroactively. Estonia wishes to apply the Convention in all its maritime areas and not just in its economic zone.

The explanatory memorandum notes that the Convention will have an impact on business and the business environment. It will increase the sense of security for businesses that Estonia as a maritime nation applies uniform standards. Owners of ships registered in Estonia, and ships flying the Estonian flag under a charter party, as well as owners of ships flying the flags of other countries that visit the Estonian maritime area are the target group of the Act. Ship owners have an obligation to insure their ships to cover the damages relating to the wreckage of the ships to the extent of the liability insurance established by the Convention, depending on the tonnage of the ship.

The ratification of the Convention will have a positive impact on environmental protection and human health because it will allow to respond more efficiently in the event of a maritime casualty and to prevent the spread of potential pollution.

By now, 40 countries have ratified the Convention or acceded to it, and 13 of them are European Union countries. Estonia signed the Convention on 28 March 2008. The Convention enters into force for Estonia three months following the date of deposit of the instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

It will be necessary to amend the Maritime Safety Act in order to comply with the Convention. A Bill on amendments to the Maritime Safety Act is undergoing approval. According to the amendments, the Maritime Administration will issue certificates under the Convention, which will bring about a certain increase in its workload.

According the explanatory memorandum, the number of abandoned wrecks is estimated at almost thirteen hundred worldwide and they may pose a hazard to navigation as well as the environment. The Convention is intended to avoid potential hazards in the future.

85 members of the Riigikogu voted for the ratification of the Convention.

A Bill passed the second reading in the Riigikogu:

The Bill on Amendments to the Commercial Code (transfer of share) (148 SE, consolidated Bills 101 SE and 117 SE), initiated by the Legal Affairs Committee and the Government, will simplify the transfer of shares of private limited companies and eliminate unnecessary restrictions and formal requirements. Under the Bill, the minimum value of a share will be set at one cent instead of the current one euro. The formal requirement for a transaction constituting an obligation to transfer or pledge a share which currently applies to all private limited companies will be repealed. A private limited company with a share capital meeting the minimum requirement will be allowed to provide in its articles of association with the consent of all partners that a disposition for the transfer or pledge of a share can be carried out under a simplified procedure, that is, in a format which can be reproduced in writing.

The minimum value of a share will be set at one cent instead of the current one euro which will allow to determine the amounts of the shares of private limited companies more flexibly. Under the current law, a transaction constituting an obligation to transfer or pledge a share as well as a disposition must be notarised (except in the case when the shares of the private limited company have been entered in the Estonian register of securities).

Three Bills passed the first reading:

The Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act (135 SE), initiated by the Government on 20 January, will establish a digital nomad visa that would enable people who work location-independently to work in Estonia on the basis of a visa. A digital nomad visa may be a short-stay visa or a long-stay visa. The general conditions for granting a visa will apply upon application for it. Although it is in essence a form of tourism, it is not tourism in the classical sense but working for a company in a foreign country.

The amendments are justified by noting that Estonia is one of the first countries in the world to enable digital nomads to apply for a visa for the purpose of teleworking. People who work online for example in IT, finance or marketing, at the same time travelling around in different countries, are called digital nomads. Digital nomads bring significant added value to a country because they consume goods and services and thereby have a positive impact on local enterprise.

It is also said that Estonia is known for its innovative technological solutions and it is an attractive destination country for digital nomads on an international scale, but the current labour migration regulation does not take into account digital nomads. They need to have an Estonian employer in order to come to work in Estonia, and therefore digital nomads often come to Estonia with a tourist visa although they also wish to telework while staying here. As digital nomads do not fit into the regulation of working in the classical sense, the requirement to have an Estonian employer stops them from coming to Estonia and choosing a purposeful basis for their stay in Estonia.

A digital nomad can come to Estonia to telework only through a mediator who is then responsible for his or her stay here. At the same time, the general conditions for granting a visa apply to digital nomads. Among other things, they need to have sufficient financial resources to stay in Estonia.

The Bill will also provide for the obligations of a sponsor for employers who register aliens’ short-term employment. It will also organise the application for a long-stay visa.

Raimond Kaljulaid took the floor during the debate.

The Bill on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia, the Government of the Republic of Latvia and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on the Configuration of the Baltic Air Surveillance Network and Control System (137 SE), initiated by the Government, provides that the Control and Reporting Centre will be closed down, and the implementation of the Baltic Air Surveillance Network and Control System to secure the sovereignty of the airspace will be carried out through national control and reporting centres that are able to replace one another if necessary. At the same time, this will allow to start preparing the national control and reporting centres for crisis and conflict situations and to increase the capability of the configuration of the Baltic Air Surveillance Network and Control System.

The Ministers of Defence of the Baltic states signed the agreement in Brussels on 24 September 2019.

In 1999, BALTNET, the integrated air surveillance network of the three Baltic states was established by an intergovernmental agreement with the aim of organising exchange of information between Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian national air surveillance systems, enabling the production of a common air surveillance picture of the Baltic region, and sharing it with third parties. As part of the NATO air defence system, BALTNET’s tasks also include air traffic control and tactical control of air polishing operations, besides air surveillance. The BALTNET air surveillance system consisted of a common control and reporting centre in Lithuania, and national centres in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The agreement needs to be ratified in the Riigikogu because, with its entry into force, the agreement between the Governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the Development of the Baltic Air Surveillance Network and Control System, ratified by the Riigikogu on 24 October 2007, will become invalid.

The major amendments proposed in the Bill on Amendments to the Social Welfare Act, the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act, the State Fees Act and the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act (146 SE), initiated by the Government, concern the social rehabilitation service, special welfare services, the safe house service, the alternative care service and the continued care service. The amendment concerning the social rehabilitation service will provide for the possibility for people with first episode psychosis to receive rehabilitation treatment by bypassing the queue for the rehabilitation service on the assessment of the treatment team. The amendment is necessary because it will provide timely and uninterrupted support and better recovery to people with first episode psychosis. The amendments are planned to be enforced on 1 January 2021.

The Bill will create flexibility that will enable to increase the maximum size of the family of a substitute home and family home, which currently is six children, in the interests of children. It is justified to grant a derogation if for example children of a family numbering more than six need alternative care.

In the case of continued care service, the Bill will expand the possibilities of local governments to fund the continued care service for young people from the funds of the support fund. With the amendment, in the future, local governments will be able to support at the expense of the support fund for example young people who resume their studies after an interruption to studies. The amendments are planned to be enforced pursuant to general procedure.

With the amendments to the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act, medical experts of the Social Insurance Board will be given the possibility to identify a person’s disability and the degree of severity of the disability in persons of working age on the basis of their health data. At present, applicants need to describe the restrictions they are experiencing by spheres of activities in order for the degree of severity of their disability to be identified. In addition, according to the Bill, in the case of a child with a severe or profound disability whose condition is constant and unchanging or progressive, the duration of the degree of severity of the disability can be identified for until he or she attains working age. At present, the degree of severity of disability is determined for one to three years. The amendment is planned to be enforced on 1 April 2020.

The amendment to the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act will give the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund the possibility to use counselling of the unemployed by telephone or through electronic means more flexibly, instead of inviting them to face-to-face counselling, in justified cases.

Helmen Kütt (Social Democratic Party) took the floor during the debate.

The Riigikogu rejected three Bills at the first reading:

The Bill on Amendments to the Funded Pensions Act, the Income Tax Act and the Securities Register Maintenance Act (119 SE), initiated by the Estonian Reform Party Faction and the Social Democratic Party Faction, was intended to create greater flexibility in how the assets accumulated are used during the retirement period and to also enable needs-based use of the assets in the contributions stage in certain clearly delimited cases. The Bill would also have given people an opportunity to increase their contributions to the mandatory funded pension scheme.

During the debate, Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party), Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa) and Jürgen Ligi (Reform Party) took the floor.

52 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the rejection of the Bill at the first reading, and 41 voted against.

The Bill on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act (127 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Jevgeni Ossinovski, Helmen Kütt and Riina Sikkut, provided for the possibility for hospital pharmacies to import medicinal products. In addition, the Bill would have enabled pharmacies of the hospitals specified in the plan of the hospital network also to engage in the retail sale of medicinal products in their hospitals in a similar manner as general pharmacies do, in addition to supplying hospital departments.

During the debate, Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party), Urmas Espenberg (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) and Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) took the floor.

63 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the rejection of the Bill at the first reading, and 11 voted against.

The Bill on Amendments to the Medicinal Products Act (141 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Jevgeni Ossinovski, Riina Sikkut and Helmen Kütt. The Medicinal Products Act sets out the requirement that, upon issuing a general pharmacy authorisation, a majority of the shares and the dominant influence must belong to a pharmacist. According to the Bill, this requirement would also have deemed to be fulfilled in the case when a majority of the shares and the dominant influence belonged jointly to several pharmacists.

During the debate, Riina Sikkut (Social Democratic Party), Urmas Espenberg (Estonian Conservative People’s Party) and Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) took the floor.

54 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the rejection of the Bill at the first reading, and 11 voted against.

The sitting ended at 7.55 p.m.

 

Source: Parliament of Estonia

 


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