If necessary, Belgium can take over the presidency of the European Union from Britain in the second semester of 2017.
The U.K. will be in Brexit negotiations then, and Belgium is prepared to take over. This was confirmed by Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.
The idea also emerged at last week’s NATO summit. “My Estonian colleague asked me if it was true that we were planning to take up the presidency”, Reynders told Belga.
The Foreign Minister discussed this in the Belgian government, and had informal talks with European colleagues at a summit between Asian and European leaders in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, are not against the idea, it could be heard.
An extra presidency in 2017 would not trigger a lot of extra costs for Belgium, as the infrastructure is there. Belgium held the presidency in 2001 and 2010; the next term was planned for 2024.