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Justice chancellor says no problem with merging agencies, inspectorates

The Environment Inspectorate and the Environment Board may have similar names in both Estonian and English, but they are to remain separate for the time being.
The Environment Inspectorate and the Environment Board may have similar names in both Estonian and English, but they are to remain separate for the time being. Source: ERR

The Chancellor of Justice does not foresee any problems with the independence of supervision when merging agencies and inspectorates. She thinks it will be possible for the institutions to perform their functions and supervise themselves.

Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab asked Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise whether the independence of supervision is ensured when merging agencies and inspectorates. 

Aab said that several agencies and inspectorates are to be merged with the National Reform Action Plan, and in this context, the issue of guaranteeing the independence of the licensing process and of the supervisory function within the Joint Authority has been repeatedly raised.

Madise replied that the purpose of the authorization procedure and the supervision procedure is generally the same: in one case, the requirements are checked beforehand and in the other case, the requirements are followed up after. 

In the permit procedure, for example, the state determines the behavior of the permit holder and the state monitors their compliance with its supervisory functions. These tasks are not mutually exclusive and can be performed within one institution.

However, if in some areas, for example where the EU makes a recommendation to separate market regulators from technical supervision, the functions need to be separated, Madise said. This can also be done within one authority or transferred to another, eg at the ministry level.

Madise notes it is commonplace and reasonable, from the point of view of Estonians, that the same agency should perform both the licensing and supervisory functions. This will mean problems such as state institutions interpreting the laws in different ways are not be able to occur.

She said: "The principle of good administration requires a person to be clear about what is required of them. For example, the National Heritage Board sets special conditions for heritage conservation and authorizes works, and later verifies that the conditions are met. The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) issues security company licenses and supervises security companies and security staff activities. The PPA also issues a residence permit to a foreign national and checks their compliance with legal grounds for staying in Estonia."

This is not the first time agencies and inspectorates have been merged. For example, the Plant Production Inspectorate was merged with the Agricultural Board. 

In 2007, the functions of the Energy Market Inspectorate were merged with the Competition Authority and the Technical Supervision Authority took over the functions of the Technical Inspectorate and the Railway Inspectorate.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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