BRUSSELS - During Estonia's EU presidency Brexit will be in focus and the European Union is hoping to reach an agreement with the UK regarding exit conditions during Estonia's presidency, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas told the public broadcaster ERR on Saturday after a special European Council summit in Brussels.
"The talks will take place in the next two years. The hope is to reach an agreement regarding the first stage by this fall or winter," Ratas told ERR. He added that the main topics to reach an agreement on are the rights of citizens and businesses, the so-called bill, and then what will happen to the relationship between the EU and the UK.
In answer to a question asked by ERR, Ratas said that the 27 member states are hoping to reach an agreement regarding the bill to be handed to the UK during Estonia's EU presidency which will last from July to December. "The UK will say to that that we should first discuss the future and then the bill. But these are two conflicting principles," he said.
According to Ratas, Brexit will be in focus during Estonia's EU presidency period. "The European Commission will be the one to directly negotiate, but Estonia will be a close partner," he said.
The special European Council meeting in an EU27 format on Saturday adopted guidelines for the negotiations of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU.