Decision on UK Presidency of EU Council poses one of the first major challenge for EU leaders – Hayes
Brian Hayes MEP today said that a decision to be taken on what happens with the UK’s upcoming 6-month Presidency of the EU Council will be one of the first major practical challenges that EU leaders face.
“In July 2017, the UK was due to take up its 6-month Presidency of the EU Council and while it will still be a member of the European Union, it makes no sense that the UK should carry out this term. For the UK to take the driving seat in decisions on EU laws that will not affect it in the future would be wrong.
“For Ireland, a UK Presidency would always have worked in our favour. At the EU Council table, they are our natural partners and allies when it comes to EU decision-making. Losing such an ally is a great shame, particularly for something as important as an EU Council Presidency. But it is now in the interest of the other 27 Member States that we urge the UK to relinquish its Presidency in the second half of 2017.
“This issue will be one of the first major practical challenges that EU leaders must decide on following Brexit. Rules to change the order of the rotating EU Presidencies must be agreed by unanimous decision among all Member States. There has never been an amendment to the order of the Presidencies so this is unchartered territories. A report by the House of Lords before the referendum said that the UK government should immediately give consideration to alternative arrangements for its Presidency if there is a vote to leave.
“There are a number of options. Firstly, a different Member State could take over the Presidency as a substitute for the UK. This may work for some of the bigger Member States as they would have the adequate resources in place and be prepared to take on extra workload. However, this would give one Member State a greater share of Presidencies in the period 2007-2020, where all Member States are due to undertake just one Presidency.
“The second option would be for either Malta, whose Presidency begins in January 2017, or Estonia, whose Presidency begins in January 2018, to extend the term of their Presidency to 12 months. This looks like a good solution but both for both of these countries, this is their first EU Presidency, which makes the task of a 12 month Presidency a much more overwhelming proposition.
“The third option is for Malta and Estonia to both share the responsibility of taking over the UK’s Presidency. This would mean both Malta and Estonia would undertake a 9-month Presidency term. In my opinion, this is the most logical compromise. It is a manageable solution for both countries and does not seriously affect the calendar of rotating Presidencies. I believe that the Irish government should favour such a solution when it comes to a decision in the European Council.”