Public discussions

Public discussions or public consultations allow the public to express their opinions on and potentially influence the decisions taken regarding substantive matters of public importance. This is associated with the freedom of expression.

Public discussions or consultations with the public can take many different forms, including in person or remotely via governmental or media platforms or social media. In addition, public discussions take place at nearly all levels of governmental decision-making, ranging from municipal to ministerial and parliamentary.

Some examples of public discussions or consultations include, but are not limited to:

  • public input into draft legislation
  • advisory councils and work groups in ministries
  • municipal public discussions regarding the cutting down of trees or planned construction
  • public discussions regarding other decisions of public importance

According to the Rules for Good Legislative Practice and Legislative Drafting, interest groups and the public are involved in the preparation of a legislative intent, concept and draft act and coordination must be carried out in compliance with the provisions of the Rules of the Government of the Republic and the Good Practice of Involvement. The Good Practice of Involvement provides that when developing drafts, a government authority consults with interest groups and the public in the earliest possible stage of proceeding and during the whole process. A public consultation must in any event be carried out in two stages of proceedings: when applying for a mandate for developing a draft and when the draft has already been developed.

In addition, the Local Government Organisation Act requires rural municipalities and city governments to organise the involvement of all interested persons in the preparation of a development plan and budget strategy through public discussions.

How can you participate in a public discussion?

Public consultations on draft legislation usually take place via the Information System for Draft Legislation (Eelnõude infosüsteem, EIS), where you may review the draft legislation, submit your proposals, and follow the progress of the projects in which you are interested. You may also research the advisory councils, work groups, and public discussions at the local or ministerial level and the steps you need to take in order to take part in them on the website of the respective governing body. Alternatively, you can enquire with the authority about the specific issue in which you are interested.

What human rights violation may there be?

If you have not been given a say on a matter of public interest, either because the public has not been consulted or because you in particular have not been heard, your freedom of expression may have been interfered with or potentially violated.


Last updated 08/04/2023