The Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for a halt to the proposed amendment of the Language Act, initiated by the Ministry of Education and Research. The chamber argues that the draft is an over-regulation and that the problems it claims to solve are not clearly defined.
"The business community believes that the draft is a case of over-regulation, that it violates the principles of good lawmaking and that there are significant shortcomings when it comes to the impact assessment. It is also unfathomable as to why the draft is being dealt with as a matter of urgency," the chamber said in a press release on Wednesday.
The draft bill to amend the Language Act as well as the Public Transport Act, was put forward by the Ministry of Education and Research as a means of strengthening the position of Estonian as the official state language. The amendment aims to increase the visibility and audibility of Estonian in public space by, among other things, regulating the use of foreign languages in advertising and public announcements. The proposed changes would also require people working with digital platforms as food couriers or taxi drivers to attain a high level of proficiency in Estonian.
Mait Palts, director general of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explained that, as a general rule, every draft law must be preceded by a draft proposal, however, that has not happened in this case, as the issue has been presented as urgent.
"The ministry has justified the urgency (of the amendments) on the grounds of developments in society and the great pressure to use foreign languages in public space. This justification is very general and the explanatory memorandum lacks substantive arguments to justify not providing a draft proposal," said Palts, adding that there are much bigger and more important problems in society at the moment, which do require urgent solutions.
"The preservation of the Estonian language and its correct use is important, but the focus must now be on the sustainability of the economy and entrepreneurs, whose main concerns are rising labor costs, high electricity prices and inflation," Palts said.
Editor: Michael Cole