Quarterly report on advocacy 1/2024

1. Apr 2024

The first quarter of the year continued the momentum of last year, but some new issues were also on the table.

The draft of the motor vehicle tax is in its second reading, so now is the last chance for lobbyists to make their views known to politicians. We noticed that not all the potential stakeholders who could have an opinion on the motor vehicle tax were represented at the 12.03 public session of the State Assembly on the subject, so maybe someone reading this will be inspired. All the documents related to the bill and the status of the procedure can be found here.

What happens when the state forgets to engage and poorly assesses the impact – the state can end up unconstitutional. This is exactly what has happened with the Land Tax Act and the Tax Organisation Act, which the President failed to promulgate. In the President’s view, the confidence binding nature of the bill was not justified, and the Chancellor of Justice found that the bill was also unconstitutional in substance. The NENO agrees with the Chancellor of Justice’s position, which is why we have also sent a letter to the Supreme Court requesting it to consider declaring the Act unconstitutional. What is the problem? If the law enters into force, all NGOs and Foundations will be obliged to check the e-tax office every 5 working days. While currently the State is obliged to verify that a notice sent by the State has been delivered to the NGO, in the future a notice sent by the State to the e-Tax Office will automatically be deemed delivered within 5 working days. In other words, an NGO that organises an event once a year would have to constantly check that the State does not want to claim anything from it, otherwise it could face a fine. We cannot accept such a situation, as it is a very burdensome requirement that can be easily met by only a small number of NGOs. We are now waiting for the ruling of the Supreme Court. However, if the Supreme Court does not declare the law unconstitutional, we will continue to work on correcting the law both legally and politically. We will keep you informed!

The co-ordination phase of the draft law raising the thresholds for the review of the annual accounts of foundations from €15 000 to €1 million has been completed. The planned amendment will significantly ease the reporting obligations of foundations, as under the current law it is difficult for foundations to find an auditor and the cost of a few hundred euros per €15 000 turnover for an auditor is also disproportionate. The NENO gave a favourable opinion at the stage of coordination of the draft. The draft now awaits the procedure in the upper house of parliament. Given the magnitude of the change, it would be prudent for the foundations themselves to signal to the Riigikogu that this is a much awaited and necessary change, so as to avoid political headwinds. Documents related to the draft can be found here.

The court order reminded that a majority of votes is not required to become a member of the board of an NGO, unless this is expressly laid down in the statute. The NENO was approached by a citizen who had been elected to the board of an NGO, but had not obtained a majority of the votes cast and was therefore not taken into account by the other members of the board when the application for registration was made. The citizen then filed an application for registration with the Commercial Register on his own initiative, but the Commercial Register did not confirm the registration. The citizen then took the commercial register to court, and the court order annulled the previous entries in the commercial register and the citizen became a full member of the board. The moral of the story is that, according to § 22(11) of the NGO Act, the candidate who received more votes than the others is deemed elected at the general meeting for the election of a person, unless the statute impose a higher voting requirement. Perhaps if your NGO sees the importance of the requirement of a majority of votes in favour, this should be specifically stated in the statute.

The process of drafting the climate law is ongoing, but the first draft version has not yet been shown. A round of public consultation is scheduled to start in May, with opinion polls planned. In the meantime, the sectoral working groups will continue their work and we hope to have a draft soon. For more information on the engagement and the stages of the draft, click here.

During the quarter there have been a variety of inspiring, frustrating, useful and less useful meetings and consultations. In February, ARVAK was held to discuss the national Open Government Partnership Action Plan for the next period. A working group on private fundraising is underway at the Ministry of Culture, where we hope to bring back to the table the expansion of donation opportunities for both individuals and businesses. We met with the Chancellor of Justice, talked about the quality of public governance, concerns about inclusion and trends that may affect NGOs.

The European Union is preparing for the new funding period, in the framework of which Estonia is preparing its positions for consultations between the European Commission and the country. The country is creating a new co-creation environment, a prototype of which we took part in testing. THE NENO Advocacy manager Marcus’s favourite part of this was that in future the portal will be able to see the law in force, with planned amendments, without having to jump between the Riigi Teataja (State Gazette) and the drafting information system. We also participated in a workshop on innovations in the democratic ecosystem organised by DD and OSCE election observers visited Estonia to present their observations on the previous parliamentary elections, together with suggestions for future changes. We are also working on analysing and describing the data from the Advocacy Capacity Assessment Questionnaire and will share the results soon.

COME ALONG AND LET’S THINK TOGEHTER! Two networks work along the advocacy strand of the NENO: the Advocacy Network and the Open Government Partnership Network. The Advocacy Network is a network of organisations that implement advocacy to achieve their objectives, and that want to promote the capacity of NGOs to engage in advocacy activities and contribute to more effective cooperation between the state and NGOs. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) Network deals more specifically with the issues of the OGP as an initiative and brings together those interested in having their say on what open government, democracy, good regulation, etc. should look like in Estonia. The next stakeholder network meeting will take place on 16 April at 14h00. If you would like to get involved, please email Alternatively, if you are interested in the Open Government Partnership Network, please contact

If you have any thoughts on what could be done better or not done at all, email