European Parliament seeks to prevent 'risk' of Orban becoming president of Council

The majority of political groups in the European Parliament want the Council of the European Union to find a “solution” to the possibility of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban becoming president of the European Council if Charles Michel steps down without a successor in place. The request is included in a joint resolution by the groups that they will vote on on Thursday.

The draft resolution has been put forward by the European People’s Party (EPP), the social democratic S&D, the liberal Renew, the Greens and the far left. 

Michel will stand for election as an MEP in June, meaning he would resign as president of the European Council in July, three months before the end of his term. EU heads of government jointly appoint the Council president. If no permanent or interim replacement has been chosen by then, Orban will stand in at least temporarily to chair meetings after Hungary takes over the presidency of the Council of the EU in July. 

Orban has been considered the “enfant terrible” of the European Council for years, because of his poor track record on the rule of law in his home country and, more recently, disagreements over Europe’s approach to the war in Ukraine.

The European Parliament also questions whether the Hungarian government, because of its breaches of European law and EU values, will be able to exercise the temporary presidency of the Council. The hemisphere therefore asks that the Council – and thus Belgium as the current holder of the rotating presidency – “find appropriate solutions to contain these risks as soon as possible”.


Viktor Orban speaks at a press conference in Budapest, 16 January 2024 © PHOTO ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

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