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Photograph: freeimages.com/robert_driese

Croatia will hold the rotating presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2020, the Council of the EU decided on Tuesday.

After the United Kingdom voted at a referendum last month to leave the bloc, its government has decided to relinquish the EU presidency which it was due to assume in the second half of 2017.

Following the UK decision, the Council decided to bring forward by six months the order of presidencies, starting from 1 July 2017.

Instead of the UK, the rotating presidency in the second half of next year will be assumed by Estonia, whose presidency was initially scheduled for the first half of 2018. Estonia will be followed by Bulgaria and Austria, which will hold the presidency in the first and second half of 2018 respectively. Romania and Finland will be EU presidents in 2019.

According to the previous schedule, Croatia, which joined the EU on 1 July 2013, was to hold the presidency in the second half of 2026. Croatia will now assume the presidency six and a half years earlier than originally planned and six and a half years after joining the bloc.

The new decision established the order in which the member states will hold the presidency of the Council of the EU until 2030.

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