Foreign minister: EU-UK deal ray of good news in bleak period

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UK and EU flags. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) has welcomed news of the last-minute deal signed between the European Union and the United Kingdom, as announced on Thursday in the international media.

Reinsalu wrote on his social media account Thursday: "Merry Christmas to all homes all across Estonia and the wider world. News that a trade agreement has been reached on Brexit is a great message for all concerned, for our people, and above all, for Estonian entrepreneurs and traders, employees and consumers."

"This news is a ray of light in international relations over a new year of turmoil," he went on.

The deal means, Reinsalu wrote, that from January 1, while customs declarations would have to be made on goods passed between the EU and the U.K. or vice versa, goods originating from either union would not be subject to duties along the lines of WTO rules which would have applied in the event of no-deal.

"At this time of turmoil, this is positive news, and especially near to Estonia, as an old and good friend of the U.K.," Reinsalu went on, adding that diplomats would have to take a look at the hundreds-of-pages-long, agreement and then submit it to the government to sign off on the document.

"Now all parties must act with lightning speed, because time is running out," Reinsalu added.

The deal is worth an estimated £668 billion (€742.7 billion), with fishing rights in particular proving a last-minute sticking point and the deal seeing a transitional period of five-and-a-half years, during which fishing vessels from EU nations will continue to have fishing rights in U.K. waters.

Meanwhile, former prime minister of Estonia's neighbor to the south, Valdis Dombrovskis of Latvia - now a European Commissioner - took a more poetic approach to the saga on his social media page:

The UK is set to exit EU trading rules next Thursday, December 31, the due date for the end of the transitional period following the official departure from the EU a year earlier.

A direct flight ban between Estonia and the U.K., in both directions, remains in place to year-end at the time of writing.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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