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Britain won’t take up 2017 EU council presidency

The decision was made by Britain’s new PM Theresa May on Tuesday during her telephonic conversation with EU council president Donald Tusk.

What is being seen as one of Britain’s first moves in preparation to exit from the European Union,  the country has decided not to take up the presidency of EU council which was scheduled for 2017, Independent reported.

The decision was made by Britain’s new PM Theresa May on Tuesday during her telephonic conversation with EU council president Donald Tusk.

According to Downing Street spokesperson, May told Tusk that Britain would relinquish presidency as it would be preparing for the EU exit process next year. Tusk welcomed the PM’s straightforward decision. Both have agreed to work together closely for a smooth exit process.

The call was May’s first conversation with the EU president after becoming the prime minister.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met European leaders and US Secretary of State John Kerry for discussions on Turkey, Nice and EU referendum fundamentals.

The rotating EU presidency council allows a 6-month office for its 28 member states to have equal opportunities to shape EU agenda. The council chairs meetings with heads of states and determines its agendas, and sets a programme of work for the six month period. Currently,  Slovoakia holds the presidency. Estonia is likely to follow UK’s slot.

There is a possibility that May will have utilized Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty for starting the Brexit process by second half of 2017.

The country to fill in Britain’s vacated presidency has not been decided so far.

Prime Minister May will travel to Germany later in the day for what she has described as frank and open talks with her counterpart Angela Merkel.

Speaking ahead of the trip to Germany she said she was “determined that Britain will make a success of leaving the EU” and her visits to Germany and France on Friday was to “forge strong working relationships”, Sky News noted.

(With IANS inputs)

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