President not to hold further legal assessment of pension reform bill

President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid is not planning to commission a legal assessment on the government bill to reform the Estonian pensions system, which passed the Riigikogu on January 29.

"Over recent months, various parties have been conducting analyses on pension reform, and we do not plan to add to that," the president's communications officer Taavi Linnamäe told ERR.

This did not mean the president would not be thoroughly examining the bill, which makes employee contributions to the so-called second pillar of the pension system voluntary, where they had previously been mandatory for most wage earners since 2010.

"Over the course of this week, the president is to thoroughly examine the draft sent her … she has also met former Chancellors of Justice and Supreme Court presidents, and discussed the topic with various experts," Linnamäe said.

"The head of state is not either in favor or against any law, his role is to keep the Estonian legal space in check with the constitution, and by February 13 at the latest he will decide whether or not the Pension Reform Act is constitutional," the spokesman added.

The president has until Wednesday next week to decide whether to give her assent to the bill, or to send it back to the Riigikogu.

Under the rules, the president has a 14-day period within which to promulgate a law or return it to the Riigikogu. In the latter case, which she would do if there were concerns anything in the bill was unconstitutional, the Riigikogu would either amend it or pass it unchanged. The president also has the option if the law is unchanged, to refer it to the Supreme Court.

Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise wrote to the chairman of the Riigikogu finance committee Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) the week before last, noting several concerns about the bill.

The last time a bill was referred to the Supreme Court was in summer 2019, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government on the bill to cut alcohol excise duties.

In a previous Supreme Court case in 2019 involving the president and addressing her concerns over the Estonian Defence Forces Organisation Act 2014, the president outsourced her legal advice to law firm Sorainen.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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