Michel withdraws his candidacy for the European elections in order to exhaust his mandate as Council President

The Belgian Charles Michel turning back. The President of the European Council announced on Friday afternoon that he was finally withdrawing his candidacy for the next European elections as list leader of the Belgian Reform Movement (MR). A decision made official at the beginning of this month that forced him to resign early as head of the institution that brings together the heads of state and government of the twenty-seven.

Michel's departure left the council's leaders in a delicate situation. They were forced to find a replacement after the July 16 elections so as not to leave the interim office in the hands of the Hungarian prime minister. Viktor Orbanas Budapest takes over the rotating EU Council Presidency from July 1st.

“In order to maintain composure in fulfilling my current mission, I will not run for the European elections,” Michel wrote on his Facebook profile. The Belgian acknowledged that his decision to present his candidacy had sparked “intense controversy in the media” and assured that he had foreseen this partly due to the “unprecedented, bold, as some will say” nature of his decision.

“But I underestimated the extent and radicality of certain negative reactions – not within the European Council but outside – to the prospect of seeing me take part in the European campaign. “And also bringing forward the end of my term of office and the inauguration of my successor by a few months,” he explained.

Michel, who wanted to run as list leader of the French-speaking Liberal Party of Belgium, He will finally resign from office on November 30th. As he explained, he does not want the controversies to “distract us from what is important and undermine the institution I preside over, and therefore the European project,” and he does not want his approach “to be instrumentalized in any way.” or be redirected to divide the Council.” European who, in his opinion, must work tirelessly for European unity.

“I accept the legitimacy of all political criticism and all intellectual arguments. Of course, there are several possible points of view on a given situation. But I observe that hurtful attacks are increasingly taking precedence over factual and factual arguments,” he emphasized, referring to the harsh reactions that his first announcement provoked. Something that was resisted. “In my opinion, this has implications for the development of democratic life. On a personal level, I wonder what meaning and impact an election campaign to which I have dedicated my life for thirty years has, not only for myself but also for the people close to me.

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This is what the former Belgian Prime Minister assures at the end of his term at the head of the European Council will need time to think “on the nature and direction of his future involvement.” Although he considers that the fact that he communicated his decision to stand in the European elections “fairly early” “ensured the transparency of his intentions” and the European Council gave enough time to prepare for the transition. He noted that the activities of an election campaign are consistent with the exercise of a mandate that is coming to an end.

The leader of the Belgian reform movement, Georges Louis Bouchezconveyed on social networks that although it would be a “real disappointment” not to have Michel on their list, his decisions “should inspire the greatest respect”.

Other voices among European liberals were not so understanding. It is the case Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chairman of the Bundestag's defense committee and the German FDP's leading candidate in the European elections, described the announcement as “another 180-degree turn… which causes confusion.” “Their role is not self-promotion, but representation of member states and coordination . He doesn't do any of that. “It is time for a new and worthy President of the EU Council,” he concluded.

In his announcement, the President of the Council emphasized that his successor would be elected before the first plenary session of the European Parliament after the next elections. On the other hand, the vacancy as list leader of the Belgian French-speaking Liberals could be filled by the current Justice Commissioner, Didier Reynders. The only problem is that Belgium has just endorsed his candidacy for Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

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