Reshuffle of EU presidencies expected very shortly

Presidencies offer member states the opportunity to show their best. Gala concert of the Slovak presidency, 1 July. [Slovak Presidency]

The rotating six-month presidencies of the Council of the EU will be reshuffled next week, as a result of Brexit, diplomats told

It is now certain that the UK will not assume its presidency, which was assigned for the second half of 2017 for its presidency, under a decision determining the order in which the office of President of the Council of the EU is held, adopted on 1 January 2007.

UK 2017 EU presidency raises concerns

Even though it is already on an exit trajectory, the UK is still due to assume the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July 2017. But it would be surreal if the UK presides over a Union that it is going to leave.

This decision, adopted on the day when Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU, foresees the following sequence of presidencies for the period until 2020, grouped in trios:

  • Trio:

First half of 2016: Netherlands

Second half of 2016: Slovakia

First half of 2017: Malta

  • Trio:

Second half of 2017: UK

First half of 2018: Estonia

Second half of 2018: Bulgaria

  • Trio:

First half of 2019: Austria

Second half of 2019: Romania

First half of 2020: Finland

Without the UK, this order needs to be reshuffled, a job expected to be decided at the level of EU ambassadors. It is still unclear if the UK would be replaced by Estonia, or by a larger and older EU country. The trios are based on a balance between new and old members, as well as countries from the EU’s North and South.

One thing is certain – Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013, will be assigned a presidency, as it was the only country not foreseen in the decided order of presidencies.

A possible sequencing of presidencies, which would not cause controversies, could be:

  • Trio:

Second half of 2017: Estonia

First half of 2018: Austria

Second half of 2018: Bulgaria

  • Trio:

First half of 2019: Romania

Second half of 2019: Finland

First half of 2020: Croatia

Analyst: Trio of EU presidencies 'is a joke'

The trio of EU Council presidencies “is a joke” – at least in the current form that groups Poland, Denmark and Cyprus, three countries with completely different agendas – says a prominent Brussels-based political analyst.

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