Estonia open to giving UK Brexit deadline extension

EU flags and Union Jacks outside the Houses of Parliament in London (picture is illustrative).
EU flags and Union Jacks outside the Houses of Parliament in London (picture is illustrative). Source: Zuma Press/Scanpix

The Estonian Government is ready, if the United Kingdom requests it, to extend the deadline for that country's exit from the European Union, it was announced on Thursday.

The proposal was made by outgoing foreign minister Sven Mikser (SDE), who noted that the UK's orderly exit from the EU, and minimising any negative impact, is in Estonia's interests as well as that of the effective functioning of the EU.

"To achieve this, we are prepared to consider extending the deadline set forth in Article 50 of the EU Treaty if the UK requests it," an agenda endorsed by the government on Thursday was so annotated.

Estonia also supports clarifications to the withdrawal agreement on the implementation and ending of the Irish ''backstop'' solution, dealing with the border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, which is in the EU. Clarifications offered in the joint statement concerning the details of the negotiations on future relations are also supported by the government, it is reported.

"It is in Estonia's interest to start agreeing upon the future relationship with the UK as soon as possible. The goal is to maintain an ambitious and close relationship with the UK, and diverse cooperation primarily in the economy, foreign policy and the fields of security and defence," government spokespersons added.

The House of Commons voted by 312 to 308 on Wednesday to reject a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances, hot on the heels of its latest rejection of Theresa May's Brexit agreement with the EU, leaving the situation in an impasse just over two weeks before the scheduled Brexit date of 29 March. The House of Commons is however due to vote on Thursday about requesting a Brexit extension from the EU.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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