The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, announced this Friday his decision to withdraw as a candidate of the Belgian Reformist Movement (MR) in the European Parliament elections next June and exhaust his mandate at the head of the European institution, in response to the strong criticism received from different sectors for the interim situation in which the Council would remain after its premature departure.
"I do not want this decision to distract us from our mission or undermine this institution and our European project, nor do I want it to be misused to divide the European Council," he declared in a statement that he shared on his social networks, where he regrets that his candidacy had caused "a heated media controversy."
According to Michel, he himself had already foreseen that his aspirations to become an MEP would generate controversy, but he underestimated "the magnitude and radicality of some negative reactions, not within the European Council, but outside it", a situation that he regretted.
"I accept the legitimacy of any criticism and any intellectual argument. Of course, any situation has several possible points of view, but personal attacks are increasingly taking over objective democratic discourse," stressed the former Belgian prime minister.
In this context, Michel has recognized that the situation generated makes him rethink at all levels, including the impact it has on his personal sphere, the "electoral commitment" to which, he says, he has dedicated his life "for the last 30 years ".
"For these reasons, and to maintain focus on my mission, I will not be a candidate in the European elections. I will dedicate all my efforts to my current responsibilities with firm determination until the end. I will always be a fervent defender of a democratic, strong, united Europe and mistress of her destiny," Michel concluded, adding that at the end of her mandate she will take "some time to reflect."
If Michel had won a seat in the European Parliament in this summer's elections, the former Belgian prime minister would have to abandon the presidency of the European Council, which he assumed in 2019, months before exhausting his mandate in November of this same year. .
Although his team defended that there were no legal impediments and that the replacement would only force the successor to have an early start, other voices saw a risk in the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, provisionally taking the reins of the institution, while who would hold the rotating presidency of the EU Council while Michel's replacement was decided.