European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator meets with Estonian officials
The European Commission’s chief negotiator for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, Michel Barnier, met with high-ranking Estonian officials on Tuesday to hear if there were specific issues or wishes they would like to have addressed.
Estonia’s special representative to the EU’s institutions, Matti Maasikas, welcomed the fact that Barnier had decided to visit every EU member state, introduce his team and the upcoming process, and ask about the member state’s wishes in the matter.
Negotiations will begin in earnest once the UK invokes Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon by formally notifying the union of its intent to leave. The British government has announced it will do so in March next year.
Maasikas remarked that as far as the negotiations were concerned, one thing was clear, namely that the four freedoms of the European Single Market were indivisible. The UK wouldn’t have the opportunity to say that they wanted free movement of goods, but not free movement of people. One couldn’t be had without the other, that much was clear, Maasikas said.
The four freedoms of the European Single Market include the free movement of goods, the free movement of capital, the freedom to establish and provide services, and the free movement of people.
What mattered for the upcoming Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union was that the basic framework for the negotiations would be in place in early June next year, and that it would be clear by then how Barnier intended to keep everyone informed, Maasikas said.
He said that the most important thing to Estonia and the EU was the unity of its 27 members. Good relations with the UK ranked second in its priorities, Maasikas added.
Barnier also met with Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), Minister of Finance Sven Sester (IRL), and President Kersti Kaljulaid.
Prime Minister Ratas said according to a press release that followed the meeting that above all the unity of the European Union had to be the priority. He also pointed out that the four freedoms of the European Single Market were indivisible.
According to the president, the biggest challenge is to keep the EU united. “It is important that the negotiations end successfully, so that the unity of the European Union remains intact,” she added.
The president assured Barnier of her support fulfilling his difficult task.