Parliament, minister find Administrative Reform Act constitutional
Both the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu and Minister of Public Administration Arto Aas (Reform) think the Administrative Reform Act is constitutional, reactions to the Chancellor of Justice’s objections published on Tuesday show.
Aas said that the reform needed to be turned into action at some point, and that there was no point in keeping on modifying and delaying its eventual legal application. Putting off deadlines indefinitely and considering extraordinary local elections was neither in the interest of local councils nor the Estonian citizen, Aas added.
Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise had written in a statement to the Supreme Court earlier on in the week that part of the Administrative Reform Act didn’t go along with the requirements of the constitution. Madise in particular pointed to the financial compensation the state is planning to pay to those municipalities that agree to merge voluntarily, as well as May 2017 being too soon to begin with forced mergers.
Aas is of the opinion that with the Act having entered into law on Jul. 1 this year, the municipalities had been given enough time to enter into merger negotiations. Enough time, in fact, to avoid finding themselves forced to merge by the Estonian government. Aas also pointed out 187 out of 213 municipalities were already negotiating, which meant that about 88% of them were doing well.
Meanwhile the Constitutional Committee of the Estonian parliament found that the Act corresponded to the provisions set out by the Constitution, even though the vote in the matter apparently was close, with five in favor and four against.