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Estonia: The Riigikogu passed the Act on Amendments to the Traffic Act

NordenBladet — The Act that was passed in the Riigikogu today establishes the rules of the road and the requirements for electric scooters and other light electric vehicles so that their use would be secure and safe for other road users.

With the Act on Amendments to the Traffic Act (191 SE), initiated by the Government, a new category of vehicles is implemented, personal transporter, which covers various vehicles intended for carrying one person and powered by electricity, for example, electric kick scooters, electric skateboards, self-balancing transporters and other similar vehicles without seating. Under the Act, personal transporters may drive mainly in the environment intended for pedestrians and cyclists, and on the carriageway in exceptional cases. The requirements for crossing the carriageway and the obligations to give way, and the obligations of the driver of personal transporter in ensuring safety are also regulated. The maximum speed for personal transporter is established at 25 km/h, and in close proximity to pedestrians, it must drive at a speed not endangering pedestrians.

In order to ride a personal transporter on the carriageway, 10–15 year old drivers of personal transporter are required to have the right to ride a bicycle, and drivers aged under 16 must wear a fastened helmet when driving on a road. Also, requirements for the power of personal transporters and for the use of reflectors and lights are established, the maximum permitted width of personal transporters and the requirements for stopping and parking are provided for, and the fine rates for the violation of traffic regulations are provided for.

The requirements concerning cyclists and drivers of mini mopeds and mopeds, in particular the issues relating to their location on the road and their obligation to give way are additionally specified.

The Act also contains a transitional provision under which persons who, before the entry into force of the Act, will have procured a personal transporter with a maximum design speed exceeding 25 km/h will be able to continue to use it in the case when the speed limit for personal transporters will be set at 25 kilometres per hour.

The Act specifies, among other things, the safe passing of pedestrians, the obligations in the event of restricted visibility, and the safety requirements in buses used for occasional carriage of children on roads outside built-up areas.

During the debate, Raimond Kaljulaid (Social Democratic Party) and Sven Sester (Isamaa) took the floor.

77 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the passage of the Act, nine were against, and there were three abstentions.

The Riigikogu also passed a Resolution

With the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Increasing the Holding of the Republic of Estonia in the International Finance Corporation” (237 OE), submitted by the Government, the Riigikogu grants its consent to increasing Estonia’s holding in the International Finance Corporation (IFC) by 3102 shares totalling 3 102 000 US dollars (approximate cost 2 872 222.22 euro). It is a financing transaction. The obligations will be assumed in US dollars. Contributions will be made within the period 2021–2025.

The International Finance Corporation is an organisation focusing on private sector investments. For example, in 2019, it invested 19.1 billion US dollars in 65 countries into the businesses of developing countries. The IFC, which is a member of the World Bank Group, was established by 31 countries in 1956. The authorised capital stock of the IFC was 100 million US dollars. The IFC currently has 185 members. Although the IFC is an institution that is a member of the World Bank Group, it has its Articles of Agreement and separate share capital, financial structure, management and employees.

87 members of the Riigikogu were in favour of passing the Resolution.

Two Bills passed the second reading

The Bill on Amendments to the Tax Information Exchange Act (238 SE), initiated by the Government.

In order to facilitate the overcoming of the economic difficulties accompanying the emergency situation due to the coronavirus, the European Union member states have agreed by a relevant Council directive that member states can defer the beginning of the exchange of information on cross-border arrangements by six months. In view of this, the Bill will make amendments to the time limits for filing the arrangements, while no substantial amendments will be made.

The exchange of information concerns cross-border arrangements that enable aggressive tax-planning and the concealment of the beneficial owner of assets or complicate the exchange of bank account information. Under the current law, providers of tax advice, banks and taxpayers would have to begin to communicate the information on the arrangements to tax authorities from 31 July 2021. According to the Bill, 31 January 2021 will be the new deadline.

The Bill on Amendments to the Labour Dispute Resolution Act (214 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the principles for the remuneration of lay assessors of labour dispute committees.

Under the Bill, the remuneration of a lay assessor will be equal to the minimum hourly wage rate, which is 3.48 euro this year. At present, the remuneration of lay assessors is calculated on the basis of the Salaries of Higher state Servants Act according to which the hourly wage is 3.07 euro. In the future, the work of lay assessors of labour dispute committees in preparation for sessions will be remunerated. At present, remuneration is paid only for the time spent on attending the sessions of a labour dispute committee.

The explanatory memorandum notes that two lay assessors must attend a session of a labour resolution committee: a representative of employees and a representative of employers. Similarly to lay judges, the purpose of lay assessors’ attendance is to view the labour dispute matter from a human rather than juridical aspect in the resolution of a labour dispute, taking into account the particularities of the views of the employees and the employers where they are of importance in the resolution of the labour dispute matter. The bases for the calculation of the remuneration paid to lay assessors have not been changed since 2013, and, under the current procedure, the remuneration paid to lay assessors is lower than the minimum hourly wage rate. This restrains employees and employers’ willingness to contribute to the work of labour dispute committees in the resolution of labour disputes.

In addition, the Bill introduces amendments aiming at specification and amendment of the current procedure in the interests of legal clarity. For example, it will be specified how many people can have recourse to a labour dispute committee with a joint petition, and the additional option of conducting sessions via a video bridge will be provided.

Two Bills passed the first reading

The Bill on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) concerning the Granting of the Status of Associate Member in the Pre-Stage to Membership of CERN (230 SE), initiated by the Government.

With the ratification of the agreement, Estonia will become an associate member of CERN. The Agreement concerning the granting of the status of associate member in the pre-stage to membership of CERN needs to be ratified in the Riigikogu, because, with the agreement, Estonia joins an international organisation and it regulates tax issues, granting a tax exemption on the property and income of CERN.

The accession will allow knowledge transfer for Estonian firms, in particular in high technology, but it will also open wider opportunities to participate in CERN procurements. After 2–5 years of associate membership, Estonia will become a full member of CERN and will conclude a new agreement that will replace this agreement. The associate member status before becoming a full member is mandatory for new member states. When Estonia becomes a full member, additional opportunities will open to it, as the maximum limit for the amount that can be recovered from CERN will be eliminated. In the associate member period, an amount recovered must not exceed the contribution of the state, and the state is not entitled to vote in the Council.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and Director-General of CERN Fabiola Gianotti signed the agreement via a video bridge in Tallinn and Geneva on 19 June 2020.

CERN was established on 29 September when the Convention for the Establishment of a European Organization for Nuclear Research entered into force. The Organization provides for collaboration among European States in nuclear research of a pure scientific and fundamental character, and in research essentially related thereto.

The Bill on the Ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Cinematographic Co-production (revised) (258 SE), initiated by the Government.

The Convention aims to foster international cinematographic co-operation in Europe. The revision of the Convention was due to the significant technological, economic and artistic evolution of the film industry since 1992. The new technology has changed both the cinematographic production, distribution and release methods, and the national financing schemes in cinematography have diversified in the states parties. As a result of the Convention, it will be possible for Estonian cinematographic producers to join international co-productions more easily, thereby expanding the creative and financing opportunities to make film projects.

The Convention applies to co-operation films, for example, cinematographic works of fiction, animation and documentaries that are intended to be shown in cinemas and, as a general rule, involve at least three producers from three member states. The co-productions of the relevant countries are subject to the approval of the competent authorities of the states parties and the application for co-production status, and once it is obtained, it is possible to apply for support from public funds. The accession to the Convention is important to Estonia for participation in co-productions where the contribution of a producer remains below 10 per cent of the production costs of the film but is not less than 5 per cent. Compared to the Convention of 1992, the minimum necessary financial contribution of a minority co-producer has been reduced and this opens the possibility in particular for small countries to participate in more co-productions.

Co-production is of significant importance in the making of Estonian films with a higher than average budget because it is impossible to produce such films with Estonian funding only. The application of the Convention will involve no additional expenses from the state budget because the objectives set will be achieved within the budget of the Ministry of Culture and the Estonian Film Institute Foundation.

 


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