European leaders had quite a job agreeing how to fill the EU’s top jobs. Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen becomes the new commission president succeeding Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg.
Five years after another former Belgian PM, Herman Van Rompuy, filled the job another Belgian will soon be at the helm of the European council. Mr Michel will be stepping down as Belgian PM, but given the ongoing federal formation process that could have been expected anyway. He takes up his new job for two and a half years on 1 December. His tenure can be extended once for the same length of time.
Speaking after the news broke Mr Michel said it was a great honour to be elected president of the EU council: “Europe is facing challenges and in my opinion these challenges are also opportunities. It will be crucial to work together with the European commission and the parliament. The next five years will be very important for the future of the European project. I’m convinced it’s very important to protect and promote our unity, our diversity and especially our solidarity”.
Mr Michel added that Europe’s institutions now needed to be brought together to create better results. “Dialogue and mutual understanding are the keys to achieving the useful compromises and agreement so crucial to the European project”.
Quizzed about his attitude to Brexit he told newsmen that he wouldn’t be drawn on this issue tonight and that that would have to wait for a later date.