The European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) approved Estonia’s positions regarding the agreements regulating the future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom at its today’s sitting.
Chair of the Committee Mailis Reps said that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union was regrettable and it would complicate the lives of many Estonians. “However, our Committee will also try to do everything to see that the changes would go as smoothly as possible. An agreement is in any case better than Britain leaving without a deal,” Reps pointed out.
The Chair of the European Union Affairs Committee added that unfortunately the agreements made in the busy moments at the end of the year showed signs of haste. “In connection with the end of free movement in January, travelling to the United Kingdom will be more complicated for those who wish to stay longer than for six months. We know that many young people are interested in studying in the UK and they are waiting for news about that. Unfortunately, there are no decisions that resolve the future of the Erasmus programmes, and in order to study in the UK, the students will have to apply for a student visa from 1 January 2021. But we are working to find good solutions to this as fast as possible, maybe as an alternative system,” Reps said.
Travelling between the EU and the UK continues to be visa-free also from the beginning of the next year, for 90 days in a 180-day period.
Deputy Chair of the European Union Affairs Committee Riina Sikkut underlined that having close relations and cooperation with the United Kingdom was important for Estonia. “Estonia values free, open and smooth trade with the UK, and regarding the recent agreement, I would like to highlight zero tariffs on mutual trade as an important decision,” she said.
According to the explanatory memorandum of the decision, the main interests of Estonia are also ensuring mutual access to the markets and equal competition conditions, as well as cooperation in digital trade and between small and medium-size enterprises, movement of capital and investments, and continuation of data exchange, transport connections, social protection and internal and legal cooperation.
The European Commission held negotiations with the United Kingdom on behalf of the Member States to conclude a new partnership agreement. Last Thursday these negotiations ended in agreeing on Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the agreement on protecting classified information and the cooperation agreement on safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy at the chief negotiators level.
In order for these agreements to take effect from the beginning of the next year, draft decisions have been submitted to Member States for urgent approval by the end of today. Signing of the agreements is planned for tomorrow. In order to give the parties of the agreement the possibility to acquaint themselves with the contents of the agreement, the draft decision provides for applying the agreement provisionally from January next year.
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