The Estonian Government has welcomed its UK counterpart's approval of the Brexit agreement, as set out on Wednesday by prime minister Theresa May (Conservative), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says.
"We welcome the British government's decision to approve the draft Brexit agreement and await the vote of the British parliament," Matti Maasikas, deputy minister for European affairs and the government's Brexit coordinator at the foreign ministry, said.
"We are certain that what has been achieved meets Estonia's expectations, ensuring the UK's withdrawal pursuant to rules and safeguarding the interests of the 27 member states of the European Union, including Estonia," Mr Maasikas continued, adding that the 27 remaining EU member states have been uniform in their position.
UK-Republic of Ireland border issue
"With this decision, the UK's withdrawal from the EU in accordance with the rules will retain the current rights of citizens and stability on the island of Ireland,'' Mr Maasikas continued, referencing the border which runs between the UK, via Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland, and the form it may take following Brexit, a prominent issue following the June 2016 Referendum vote in favour of Britain leaving the EU. The border pre-dates the UK and the Republic of Ireland joining the EU's forerunner, the EEC – which they did in 1973 together with Denmark – by several decades.
However Mr Maasikas implied there were challenges ahead within the EU, regardless of what the UK does: ''To Estonia, with regard to negotiations on future relations, continued smooth cooperation concerning internal and external security and foreign policy are particularly important. If necessary, the EU will need to find new ways and procedures for cooperation," he added.
The UK Government under Prime Minister Theresa May (Conservative) approved the withdrawal agreement from the EU on Wednesday evening.
Not clear if deal will hold
EU Council President Donald Tusk announced on Thursday the bloc will hold a special summit with heads of member states on 25 November.
At press time, the survival of the present UK government is at risk, with four government ministers including two senior ministers, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey, already having resigned on the issue of the nature of the deal.
Other prominent Conservative Party members including former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who resigned from the government in July, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, have unequivocally voiced their opposition to the deal, on the grounds principally that it does not deliver what was voted for at the 2016 referendum, and will leave the UK in a weakened position, still beholden to EU rules and regulations and trade frameworks but with no say in its running, as well as conferring a different status on Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Still leaving on 29 March
Mrs May has also faced withering attacks in parliament from opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), who described the deal as ''half baked''.
The UK is to officially withdraw from the EU on March 29 2019, regardless of what type of deal, or no deal, emerges between now and then. The next European parliamentary elections take place in two stages in late May 2019; 27 of the UK's 73 MEP seats are to be shared out amongst the EU 27, though not equally. Estonia will be getting one seat bringing its total number of MEPs to seven, and Finland will also gain an MEP, whereas Latvia and Lithuania will not.
Editor: Andrew Whyte