Estonia To Take EU Presidency From Britain

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(AFP) – Estonia is set to take over the rotating EU presidency from Britain in late 2017 after London pulled out to focus on negotiations to leave the bloc, officials said Wednesday. In the first major step towards Brexit after last month’s shock referendum result, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Britain would no longer take up its scheduled six-month stint next July. A spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk said 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 told AFP 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. The Estonian government confirmed it was ready to take Britain’s place if necessary. “Estonia has declared it will be flexible about the timing of the EU presidency after the British withdrawal,” said Tiina Urm, Head of Communication for the EU Presidency at the Estonian Government Office. “Although moving the presidency to an