BRUSSELS, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 20th july, 2016) : Estonia is set to take over the rotating EU presidency from Britain in late 2017 after London relinquished the role to focus on negotiations to leave the bloc, a spokesman for EU president Donald Tusk said Wednesday. In the first major step towards Brexit after last month's shock referendum result, Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday that Britain would no longer take the position next July.
Tusk's spokesman told AFP there was "broad agreement" when EU ambassadors met in Brussels "that Estonia's presidency be brought forward by six months to take the place of the UK". He added that "subsequent presidencies, in the order they are currently foreseen, would all in turn be brought forward by six months", meaning that Bulgaria will now take over in January 2018. "It is hoped that this result will be confirmed through a formal decision shortly," the spokesman added.
Belgium had earlier been in the frame to take on the presidency after Britain dropped out. Another EU diplomat confirmed there was broad agreement on the change to Estonia. "Everyone was for this solution. Austria has a reservation because its presidency would than fall in an election period, and it might change with Romania," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. New member Croatia, which was not in the list yet, "will be included in the first half of 2020" where the officially decided list of future presidencies currently ends.