Estonia tries to clarify uncertainty surrounding Britain’s EU presidency ({{commentsTotal}})

British flag displayed during the European Summit at the Council of the European Union in Brussels on Jun. 28
British flag displayed during the European Summit at the Council of the European Union in Brussels on Jun. 28 Source: (SIPA/Scanpix)

Estonia's representatives are trying to clarify the order of European Union presidency terms in case the United Kingdom should decide against taking its turn. The situation is made more complicated by the EU’s requirement to distribute the burden of the presidency equally among members.

“Malta’s and Estonia’s heads of government have talked about the possibility of sharing the presidency of the United Kingdom between the two countries to guarantee work group leadership and other roles held by the chairing country in case the U.K. cannot take on its presidency,” deputy director of the Estonian Government Office's EU secretariat, Kristo Põllu, told BNS on Thursday.

“In that case, Malta would extend its presidency by three months, and Estonia would take over the presidency in the necessary volume three months before the planned start,” Põllu said.

Malta’s presidency of the Council of the European Union is scheduled for the first half of 2017, after which the UK would take over. Estonia’s presidency is scheduled to start in January 2018.

Splitting the UK’s presidency between Estonia and Malta could be in violation of the EU’s founding treaties. Therefore, moving Estonia’s six-month presidency to the end of 2017 was still on the table, Põllu said.

Piret Lilleväli, who heads the team preparing Estonia’s presidency, previously said that Estonia expected the UK to decide as quickly as possible what would become of their presidency. In the meantime, Estonia would continue to prepare for a six-month presidency in the first half of 2018.

“The result of the referendum won't bring along an immediate legal change. Making the decision is in the hands of the United Kingdom,” Lilleväli said.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS