Source: President of Estonia
President Alar Karis has signed into law acts pertaining to the age limit for sexual self-determination, flight safety, unmanned aircraft, prohibition on entry to the Schengen Area and the hiring of public officials. The changes also affect investment funds, one-off support for pensioners and children, support for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Estonia and the VAT rate on newspapers.
In accordance with the Act Amending the Penal Code, the Family Law Act and the Code of Civil Procedure, the age limit of sexual self-determination is being raised from the current 14 years of age to 16 years of age. Consensual sexual relations are allowed between young people provided that the age gap between the adult and the 14- to 16-year old is no more than five years. The act also repeals the exceptional age of marriage for minors: in future, only adults will be permitted to marry.
The Act Amending the Aviation Act and the State Fees Act updates the national regulation of civil aviation in order to ensure flight safety, taking into account changes in European Union law, first and foremost a number of regulations. These changes are required in order to prepare for the opening up of the baggage- and ramp-handling market at Tallinn Airport. A chapter has also been added to the act which regulates the handling of the unmanned aircraft system.
The Act Amending the Obligation to Leave and Prohibition on Entry Act, the Police and Border Guard Act and the State Borders Act brings national law into line with regulations of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to boost the effectiveness of repatriation policy. This will enable Member States to better monitor the fulfilment of repatriation decisions and speed up the conducting of repatriation proceedings. If a citizen of a third country is subject to a prohibition on entry to the Schengen Area, this provides a basis for refusing them entry to the country, or for revoking their visa or residence permit and deporting them.
The main changes being introduced with the Act Amending the Civil Service Act and the Unemployment Insurance Act will simplify the regulation of competitions for agencies and officials. This will enable someone standing in for an official who is temporarily absent to continue in the position without having to go through a competition if the person they are standing in for does not return. It will also allow, in certain cases, for officials to be hired without competitions being held. Social guarantees for officials have also been extended with the act.
The Act Amending the Investment Funds Act and Other Related Acts will harmonise the rules on the cross-border offering of UCITS and venture capital and real estate funds for retail investors and amend the terms and conditions for the registration of the management companies of small funds. In the case of small funds, the value of their assets is less than 100 million euros and the Estonian Financial Supervision and Resolution Authority generally does not monitor them, but simply registers their operations. The changes to the law will enable pension funds to invest in securities whose underlying asset is (or the price of which is dependent on) a commodity. The amendments will also increase opportunities to invest in precious metals.
The Act on the Ratification of the Agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Austria on the Termination of the Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments ratifies the termination of said agreement between the two countries so as to guarantee the equal treatment of investors from all EU Members States, in line with EU legislation.
In accordance with the Act Amending the Family Benefits Act, the Social Welfare Act and Other Acts, a one-off payment of 50 euros will be made to children and pensioners in November. This is designed to make it easier for people to cope with the rapidly rising prices of the goods and services they require in order to meet their basic needs.
The amendment also enables home mortgage repayments to be taken into account for up to six months in a one-year period when awarding subsistence benefits. As such, families who have taken out a loan in order to buy a home will be able to be supported in the same way as families who rent.
The changes to the law will help to more effectively plan and organise the social services needed by Ukrainian refugees arriving in Estonia and the payment of benefits to them. Moreover, a pensioner living alone may take on Ukrainian refugees as tenants or subtenants without losing the benefit that is paid to them for living on their own. For 2022, local governments will be granted an exception in regard to the processing of subsistence benefits and the compensation of the cost of paying out the benefits whereby the costs they incur will be covered more quickly than usual.
In accordance with the Act Amending the Value-Added Tax Act, the current rate of VAT on press publications will be reduced from 9% to 5% in order to support the availability of independent, professional and high-quality Estonian journalism in the midst of information attacks and the information war being waged by Russia against liberal democracy. As per the current procedure, the reduced rate of VAT will apply to both physical and online publications.