European Council president Charles Michel to stand in EU elections

Charles Michel will head the European list of Belgium's French-speaking liberal party MR in the June elections. This means he will step down as president of the European Council six months earlier than planned.

"I have decided to stand for the 2024 European elections," Michel said in an interview with De Standaard, Le Soir and La Libre on Saturday. These elections will be held on 9 June. It's the first time that a current president of the European Council will stand in the European elections.

"If I am elected, I will take the oath," Michel said. "I will exercise my function as president of the European Council until I take the oath as a member of the European Parliament in mid-July." His statement comes shortly before his party's inaugural congress and New Year's reception, where party leader Georges-Louis Bouchez is expected to give more details.

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Michel's decision increases the urgency for EU leaders to find a successor quickly after the elections. Failure to do so would leave Hungary's Viktor Orbán in charge of European Council meetings when his country takes over the rotating presidency in July - a scenario most of the other 26 EU leaders are keen to avoid, given the growing tensions between them and Orbán.

Michel was not drawn on the consequences of his decision for his party colleague Didier Reynders, who is now a European Commissioner. Asked if Reynders would also be on the European list, even though a third place does not guarantee a seat, he said: "You should ask Didier Reynders. He wants to remain active in Europe in some way."



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