Friday

18th Aug 2017

Malta and Estonia could take over UK’s EU presidency

  • Who will take the six-month EU presidency from David Cameron (r)? Estonian PM Taavi Roivas (l) said he's ready if beed be. (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

Two of the smallest EU nations could take over the UK’s job of holding the rotating presidency of the union next year.

British prime minister David Cameron told fellow leaders on Tuesday (28 June) that they would have to wait for his successor to decide if the UK would still retain its role, sources familiar with talks said.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The British chairmanship had been scheduled for the second half of 2017.

Other leaders asked Cameron to let them know as soon as possible so that they could make alternative arrangements if need be.

Malta takes over the presidency at the start of next year and Estonia was due to follow Britain in 2018.

Malta would prefer Estonia’s chairmanship to be brought forward to cover the UK, a move that would also bring forward the rest of the EU presidency calendar.

Malta, with a population of some 450,000, has already tripled the staff at its EU diplomatic mission, from around 45 to 150, to cope with the tasks.

It also has made contractual and financial arrangements for the presidency, so it is less flexible to move its dates.

But Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat has said he is open to discussion about splitting the UK’s six months with Estonia, or about Malta doing a one-year stint.

There could be legal complications on splitting the six month-long period, however.

According to the Lisbon Treaty, which introduced a new trio system in 2009, three member states are meant to share each 18-month presidency period in terms of closer cooperation.

“It is simpler to change the rotation than the period,” an EU official said.

Presiding over a longer presidency would also mean extra costs for the member state in charge. An EU official said other member states might offer financial assistance is the situation arose.

Estonia, a Baltic country with a population of 1.3 million, has also started preparations for its presidency. They upped their staff from around 70 to 100, This will be doubled for the presidency period.

“We need to be flexible, prepare different scenarios. It would not be easy, but we will manage,” said an EU source. The source said that advancing Estonia’s term also posed “difficult” legal questions.

Estonian prime minister Taavi Roivas had on said Monday about the possible change of schedule: "We have thought about it. We’ve prepared for it and we'll cope with it."

The order of the presidencies is decided by member states, so the EU Council will have to make the final decision.

What is the council presidency?

The rotating presidency is in charge of pushing legislation or other decisions through the EU institutions.

It no longer speaks for the EU on the world stage, as presidencies used to prior to Lisbon, which also introduced the new posts of EU Council president and EU foreign relations chief.

It is also supposed to be a neutral broker.

But presidencies still set the agenda for legislative talks in sectoral areas, giving the host state ample opportunity to promote national interests.

The job usually requires years of preparation and the reshuffling of diplomatic staff in the country in charge. Malta, for instance, started its preparations in 2013 - four years before assuming the post.

“It’s not the end of the world if we don’t find out until September what the UK wants to do, but the sooner would be the better of course,” an EU source said.

Brexit vote irreversible, say EU leaders

EU leaders will not push Britain to begin the legal process to leave the EU, but they say there is no alternative after last week's referendum.

Analysis

Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue

Fico convinced the EU commission chief to take action in the perceived problem of discriminatory food practices, even though the evidence for the phenomenon is anecdotal.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides

Latest News

  1. UK’s childhood obesity strategy, a blueprint for EU countries?
  2. Death toll rising from Barcelona attack
  3. Austrian soldiers to stop migrants from Italy
  4. Chinese road to riches or road to ruin?
  5. UK seeks 'unprecedented' Irish border deal
  6. Merkel: No EU sanctions on migrant quota rebels
  7. UK keen to keep old EU customs deal
  8. Italy backs Libya as NGOs chased out of Mediterranean