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European elections: European Council President Charles Michel is a candidate

Five months before the European elections, the start of major maneuvers in Brussels. The President of the European Council, the Belgian Charles Michel, announced this Sunday in a number of Belgian media his candidacy for the elections to the European Parliament next June. He also said he would leave office in July, although his mandate was scheduled to end at the end of November 2024.

“Four years after the entry into force of my mandate as European leader, it is my responsibility to both report on the work done in recent years and implement a project for the future of Europe,” explained Charles. Michel, 48, who will head the list Reformist Movement (MR, French-speaking liberal party).

Elections to the European Parliament, scheduled for June 6-9 in the 27-nation EU, will see a renewal of the heads of the EU’s main institutions to reflect the political balance emerging from the vote. European MPs, who will number 720 at the end of the 2024 elections, are elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term.

Premature withdrawal has come under criticism

His premature departure is already drawing criticism and raising thorny institutional questions. “After the European elections, at the end of June, beginning of July, it is planned that the European Council will meet and make decisions, in particular on the appointment of my successor,” the former Prime Minister of Belgium said. “I inform the members of the European Council six months before the first session of the European Parliament, no one will be caught by surprise,” he explained. “We can look forward to this inauguration,” he said.

If a successor is not found, European procedures provide that in the event of termination of office due to an “impediment” such as illness, death or in the case of “serious misconduct”, without special consideration of the case of the official’s premature departure, that the President of the European Council will be temporarily replaced a European leader whose country holds the presidency of the Council of the EU for six months (i.e. chairs European ministerial meetings).

But in July, the position was occupied by nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, no stranger to diatribes against the EU and the only leader among the 27 to maintain close ties to the Kremlin after Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. However, Charles Michel believed that it was possible to “change (these provisions) by a simple majority of votes.”

“The Captain Abandons Ship”

Dutch MEP Sophie in’t Veld of the Renew Europe party (centrists and liberals), the same political family as Charles Michel, criticized the departure. “The captain abandons the ship in the middle of a storm. If it is your lack of interest in the fate of the European Union, then what is your credibility as a candidate? ” she wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

The Belgian was chosen in July 2019 to succeed Pole Donald Tusk as president of the European Council, the institution that brings together the heads of state and government of member states, during the distribution of “top jobs.” In this capacity, he was responsible for leading the work of EU summits for four years.

The announcement heightens expectations about the intentions of another leading EU figure, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, whom many observers credit with wanting to run for a new mandate.

Source: Le Parisien

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