The new Emergency Act which entered into force on 1 July and the related implementing act specify the role of state authorities, local governments and private undertakings in preventing emergencies, in preparing for emergencies and in resolving emergencies.
The Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt said that the entry into force of the new Act brings more clarity to the resolution of emergencies. “Until today, the approach to resolving emergencies varied considerably, as every authority had its own coordination procedure. Now there are uniform principles and thus all the parties have a clear view of how and what to do in an emergency,” the Minister of the Interior explained.
Compared to the formerly applicable procedure, the amendments primarily concern the identification of emergency risks and the analysis of their consequences, the preparation for emergencies, the preparation of plans and the organisation of the resolution of emergencies. The Act also introduces the definition of extensive evacuation into Estonian law, which was previously absent in this form. From now on, the Police and Border Guard Board will carry out evacuations, supported by local governments in the accommodation and catering of people.
Pursuant to the new procedure, emergencies will also include extensive interruptions in vital services (electricity, liquid fuel, mobile and data communication, etc.), which may entail severe consequences for the public. The inclusion of vital services to the list of emergencies will ensure the state’s greater focus on improving their continuity and obligate the authorities organising the services to better prepare for the resolution of crises.
The implementing acts adopted by the Government specify the events which may cause an emergency and for which authorities have to prepare risk analyses, as well as the organisation of extensive evacuations and the involvement of the Defence Forces in police work or resolving rescue events. The acts also provide a more detailed description of organising the payment of support upon obligating a person to work in an emergency situation or upon expropriating a person’s property or subjecting a person to the duty to grant use of their property in an emergency situation. In addition, the tasks and composition and procedure for conducting the sessions of the Government’s crisis committee, and other such aspects are specified.
The transfer from the former Emergency Act to the new one will take place gradually between 1 July 2017 and 1 July 2019.