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President Kaljulaid petitions Supreme Court to declare Pension Reform Act unconstitutional

20.03.2020

President Kersti Kaljulaid has refused for a second time to sign into law the Pension Reform Act, which pertains to and significantly alters the way in which mandatory funded pensions are organised, and has petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the Act unconstitutional.

“The Constitution establishes a framework for everything that takes place in our country and in our society,” the Head of State said, outlining her position. “Everything must fit within that frame, from ordinary law-making to the measures implemented in a crisis. Accordingly, there is no ‘Constitution-free zone’ in for fulfilling election promises. They too must take into account the foundations of our social contract – our Constitution. It is the duty of the Head of State to ensure that laws are made in keeping with the Constitution.”

President Kaljulaid added that her understanding of the Constitution and the Pension Reform Act has not changed in the last month. Since the Parliament passed the act for a second time unamended, both the Head of State’s arguments for turning to the Supreme Court and the contradictions between the act and the Constitution set out in her petition to them remain largely unchanged from when she refused to sign the act into law for the first time on 7 February.

“In accordance with the Constitution, the Riigikogu has wide-ranging authority to organise matters in the social sphere,” the Head of State said. “This includes the right to alter the pension system within the framework we, as a society, have agreed upon in the Constitution. However, the solution currently being offered disproportionately infringes upon people’s constitutional rights and is, in a number of places, in contravention of both the principle of legitimate expectation and the principles of the social state and state based on the rule of law set out in the Constitution.”

President Kaljulaid also emphasised that in the case of an issue, which has this broad a scope and impact on society as wide-ranging changes to the pension system has, it is important for questions to be asked and answered at every possible level, with the Supreme Court ultimately providing clarity and a solution that is acceptable to everyone.

President Kaljulaid refused for the first time to sign into law the Pension Reform Act, which will lead to the abolition of mandatory funded pensions, on 7 February this year. The Riigikogu once again passed the act, unamended, on 11 March before submitting it to the President of the Republic on 16 March for a decision on its proclamation.

The Head of State today decided to refuse to sign the act into law and to petition the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional. President Kaljulaid has petitioned the Supreme Court once before, in regard to the act expanding the surveillance rights of the Estonian Defence Forces, which the Supreme Court found to be partly unconstitutional. Since Estonia regained its independence, President of Estonia has petitioned the Supreme Court to exercise constitutional oversight a total of 15 times.

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