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UK gives up it presidency at the EU Council in 2017

UK gives up it presidency at the EU Council in 2017Britain wants to skip its scheduled presidency of the EU Council next year in order to focus on its preparations to leave the bloc, Theresa May has said.

The UK was due to hold the seat in the second half of 2017, but PM has decided that Britain should give up its turn in the light of last month's referendum vote for Brexit.

Ms May informed council president Donald Tusk in a phone call yesterday. A Downing Street spokesman said that Ms May told Mr Tusk that giving up the presidency was "the right thing to do given we will be very busy with negotiations to leave the EU". It was the first conversation with the European Council president since becoming PM.

The presidency of the council rotates on a six-montlhy basis, offering each of the EU's 28 member states the opportunity to shape the EU's agenda. Slovakia is the current president, with Estonia set to follow the UK's slot.

As the UK is due to take over for the second half of 2017, it is possible that Ms May will triggere Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by this time.

The country that will take Britain's vacated place in the presidency is yet to be determined. The presidency is not individual and is held by the whole country, with a different representative depending on the particular sitting of council.

Belgium has said it is ready to take on Britain's rotating six-month EU presidency in 2017 after London announced it would drop out to focus on its Brexit negotiations.
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