Bulgaria to Assume EU Presidency 6 Months Earlier
Bulgaria will take over the rotating residency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2018 and not in the second one as planned earlier, officials say.
The Council of the European Union has published a statement with a new timetable of presidencies, days after the UK announced it was relinquishing its own six-month term that was due between January and June 2018.
Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva, who oversees the process, has also confirmed this while at an education conference.
Reports by BNR, Bulgaria's public radio, had suggested the rescheduling would take place, but there had been no official confirmation until Tuesday evening.
British Prime Minister Theresa May than said her country would be busy negotiating its withdrawal from the EU, a step for which a narrow majority of Britons voted in June.
"The option of taking over the presidency six months earlier is also an opportunity for Bulgaria to show it is a responsible and reliable partner within the EU," the Bulgarian government has announced after a regular cabinet meeting.
The preparation for Bulgaria's presidency has already been subject to criticism for delays.
Officials earlier suggested that if it has to take place six months ahead, some events will have to be rescheduled.
The new timetable, while removing Britain from the list, adds the EU's newest member Croatia, which joined in 2013 and will now preside over EU ministerial meetings between January and June of 2020. It also lists all terms until 2030, while the previous one did so until 2020.
The EU Presidency gives a host country the right to mold the meetings' basic agenda.
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