President refuses to proclaim amendments to Foreign Service Act

President Kersti Kaljulaid

PHOTO: Madis Veltman / Postimees

President Kersti Kaljulaid decided on Thursday not to promulgate amendments to the Foreign Service Act as she finds they are not consistent with the Constitution. 

The head of state said that the main inconsistency with the Constitution lies in the amendments treating unequally the spouses of diplomats and partners registered in accordance with the Registered Partnership Act. 

The president asked the Riigikogu to discuss the amendments again and to bring the bill into accordance with the Constitution. 

Kaljulaid explained that specifically the portion of the law that regulates the social guarantees for the spouses and partners of officials in foreign service runs counter to the Constitution. In the bill passed by the Riigikogu, these provisions only regulate social guarantees for an accompanying spouse, but do not apply to a partner registered in accordance with the Registered Partnership Act. This contradicts the principle of equal treatment set forth in Section 12 of the Constitution, the president said.

“Diplomats who have contracted a marriage in accordance with the Family Act as well as those who have registered their partnership in accordance with the Registered Partnership Act have both regulated their relationship under the laws valid in the Republic of Estonia, which is why such families must be treated in a uniform manner,” the president said.

The president also cited in her decision a judgment of the Supreme Court from 2019, in which the top court deemed similar unequal treatment in the context of social tax to be unconstitutional.

Describing keeping the legal space of Estonia in line with the Constitution as one of the most important tasks of the president, the head of state said that in not promulgating the law she was not offering an assessment of the other provisions of the law as the substantive aspects of the reform of foreign service were not Constitutional issues. 

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