As Charles Michel Eyes European Parliament Presidency, Uncertainty Looms Over EU Leadership Succession

Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), In a surprising turn of events, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, has thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming European Parliament elections. The decision has triggered a cascade of speculation about the potential impact on the European Union’s leadership dynamics.

Michel, who aims to secure the presidency of the European Parliament from June 2024, has set off a chain reaction, forcing EU leaders to grapple with the question of his successor. Failure to decide promptly could result in the Hungarian President Viktor Orbán, with his controversial policy stances, assuming the presidency of the European Council.

Orbán’s track record, marked by anti-Ukraine sentiments, EU legislative vetoes, press freedom violations, and concerns over judicial independence and democratic backsliding, has raised alarms among European leaders. This has intensified the search for a viable alternative to ensure stability and cohesion within the European Union.

One standout candidate for the leadership of the European Parliament is Roberta Metsola, the current President, who has been serving in the position since 2022. Hailing from Malta, Metsola holds a law degree from the University of Malta and specializes in European studies at the College of Europe in Burge. With a rich background as a legal adviser and extensive experience representing Malta in the European Parliament, Metsola is considered a strong contender for continuity in her role.

Her potential re-election for a second term is seen as a strategic move to maintain stability within the EU during a critical juncture. Metsola’s leadership could provide a steady hand amid the intricate internal challenges facing the European Union.

However, should Michel secure the European Parliament presidency, EU laws dictate that, in the absence of a permanent council president, the post would default to the member state holding the rotating presidency – currently Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. Michel’s commitment to stepping down if elected raises questions about the potential political ramifications of his decision.

Critics argue that Michel’s past tenure as the President of the European Council was marred by perceptions of ineffectiveness and a lack of dealmaking prowess. While the position holds significant policymaking responsibilities, it also demands a strong representational role, fostering cohesion within the European Council.

Michel’s shift to the European Parliament presidency is seen by some as a strategic move driven by ambitions that were not fully realized in his previous role. Comparisons to his predecessor, Donald Tusk, highlight the challenges faced by leaders in this relatively new position, with both Tusk and Michel drawing criticism for different aspects of their leadership styles.

As the European Parliament elections approach, the outcomes will undoubtedly shape the future trajectory of the European Union’s leadership. The decision-makers must navigate a delicate balance between stability and change, with the eyes of the continent focused on the unfolding developments in the heart of the European political landscape.

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