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Supreme Court to announce pension reform decision on October 20

Grand opening of the Supreme Court.
Grand opening of the Supreme Court. Source: Silver Gutmann/riigikohus

The Supreme Court of Estonia will announce its decision on the government's pension reform bill on October 20. The judgment follows President Kersti Kaljulaid's rejection of the law, citing constitutional violations and in line with her constitutional role.

The Pension Reform Act passed the Riigikogu on January 29 this year, by 56 votes to 45. The government linked the vote to a vote of confidence, reportedly to avoid further delays by the opposition after several rival bills had been presented in parliament in the days leading up to the vote.

The president, however, rejected the law, citing six constitutional violations, mainly revolving around unequal treatment of those who remained in the pillar versus those who opted out or who were never in it, and sent it back to parliament as per protocol.

The bill itself would make membership of the so-called second pillar of the Estonian pension system, referring to employee contributions, optional where it had been mandatory for most earners since 2010.

The president said the bill disproportionately violates the fundamental rights of the people, and is in many respects contrary to the principles of the rule of law and a societal state, as well as the principles of legitimate expectations highlighted in the constitution.

The bill was then readopted at the Riigikogu on March 11 with no substantive changes, with the president rejecting it a second time on March 20, after which the dispute headed to the Supreme Court.

The major disputes surrounding the government's pension reform bill were heard in early-August at the Supreme Court.

Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) said the dispute is largely political, meaning that a court sitting was an inappropriate place to deal with it.

"I wholly dislike the fact that this political dispute is being held in court, and I don't think many judges like it either. Political disputes should take place in parliament," Helme said on August 5, noting that the president's veto was political and was not made before the court, and saying the case that the reform violates fundamental rights was a weak one.

Madis Päts, representing President Kersti Kaljulaid, is sticking to the line that the reform is unconstitutional and may in part lead to a fall in people's pension pots in the future. 

The Supreme Court is located in Tartu.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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