Charles Michel, President of the European Council, has surprised everyone by announcing that he will not be a candidate in the next European elections.
Just a month ago, it was known that he would head the list of his party, the Reform Movement, for these elections. However, Michel has rectified his decision and has decided to devote himself entirely to his current responsibilities.
An unexpected change of plans
Charles Michel, also a former prime minister of Belgium, had previously announced that he would step down as head of the European Council after the European elections in June. This would open up the possibility of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán taking the post if there was no agreement among EU leaders.
This possibility has raised concerns in Brussels, prompting several diplomatic sources to again consider Portuguese leader António Costa as a possible replacement for Michel.
In a statement published on Facebook, Michel has explained that he does not want his decision to affect the unity of the European Council. He has expressed his commitment to a democratic, strong and united Europe. Although he has received criticism and different points of view, he has made it clear that he will not be influenced by personal attacks and that he will continue to carry out his mandate until the end.
Risks for EU unity
Sources close to Michel have explained that he has reconsidered his decision because of the risks it may pose to the unity of the EU-27. This will be put to the test at the next European Council meeting, where they will address how to finance a €50 billion aid to Ukraine over the next four years.
In December, Orbán blocked this decision and continues to threaten to do so. In addition, the upcoming European elections could see a rise of Eurosceptic forces, adding further uncertainty to the EU political landscape.
Michel’s political career
Charles Michel is a Belgian politician with a long career in Belgian politics. Despite his youth, at only 48 years old, he comes from a family with a strong political tradition. His father, Louis Michel, was Foreign Minister and European Commissioner for the Reform Movement. Even his younger brother, Mathieu Michel, is also active in politics and holds the position of Secretary of State in the Belgian Federal Government.
Changes in the electoral list of the Reform Movement
Michel’s change of heart has opened the door for the current Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, from the same party but belonging to another faction, to lead the Reform Movement’s electoral list in the European elections.
Reynders had already expressed his interest in the post, but when Michel won the race, he asked his government to put him forward as a candidate to be the next secretary of the Council of Europe. Reynders is now the favorite for the post.
Conclusions and future reflections
Charles Michel’s announcement not to stand as a candidate in the European elections has generated surprise and speculation about the motives behind this change of plans. Despite the criticism and differing views, Michel has made it clear that he will continue to carry out his mandate to the end with firm determination. At the end of his term, he will reflect on his future commitments.
This unexpected turn in European politics poses new challenges and risks for the unity of the EU. Uncertainty about the future of the European Council and the upcoming European elections add to the constant threat of populist and Eurosceptic leaders in Europe.
With the political landscape in constant flux, only time will tell which direction the EU will take and who will occupy key positions in the European institutions.