Five years after his nomination as the youngest ever Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel is now the new President of the European Council. He takes over the role from Donald Tusk as the new chair of EU leaders’ summits.
Charles Michel comes with a long-standing political experience having held key positions at both local and federal levels in Belgium. Through his various mandates, Michel is known for his very strong ability to lead negotiations and find consensus despite a divided and fragmented Belgian political landscape. Those qualities, which have undoubtedly weighed in favour of his recent nomination, will be significant assets in his new role. Along with Mark Rutte, Emmanuel Macron and Xavier Bettel, he is a leading figure of the young generation of liberal leaders from across Europe.
Michel embraces his new role with a clear priority in mind: to boost Europe’s unity through enhanced trust and dialogue between its leaders, so as to eventually enable our continent to “act boldly” on the global stage. As he said in a recent interview with the Financial Times*, the European Union needs to be “more self-confident and avoid becoming collateral damage in a tussle for international influence between Beijing and Washington”.
In his speech for the occasion of the anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December, Michel reiterated his message on advancing the European agenda:
"Today we do more than look back, we celebrate a new beginning, with great enthusiasm and hope. Because we are starting the next 5 years on solid ground. We are advancing our own ambitious European agenda. The Lisbon Treaty has clearly pushed us in that direction and anchored our Union firmly into the twenty-first century."