ECOS By / March 24, 2022

Charles Michel as President of the European Council

To place Charles Michel’s activities as President of the European Council in proper context, it is important to look at the formal role of the office, as well as at the aims he had set when starting his mandate.

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Written by Ralf Drachenberg.

Charles Michel’s (first) term as European Council President comes to an end on 30 May 2022. In advance of his potential re-election by EU Heads of State or Government to that function, this paper looks at his activities during the course of his 30-month mandate to date, with a special focus on the institutional and inter-institutional dimension of his role.

Overview of EU high-level office-holders

In practice, the coronavirus pandemic has dictated the agenda of the European Council from almost the beginning of Mr Michel’s time in office. The resulting need to concentrate on ‘crisis management’ provided him, as it had his predecessors, with the opportunity to show leadership, applying a careful balance between the role of facilitator and that of agenda-setter. Despite the challenging circumstances he has faced, Mr Michel has managed to make his mark on the European Council’s agenda, notably on external relations, championing the concept of ‘strategic autonomy’. He demonstrated strong activism both prior to and after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, playing an important role in European Union mobilisation to support the country. He has also adjusted the European Council’s working methods, in particular with the use of video-conferences of small groups of EU leaders to better prepare full European Council meetings. Cooperation between the European Council President and the European Parliament has increased in comparison to previous years, particularly regarding activities not required of the President by the Treaties. Mr Michel has also innovated in communications, notably through a newsletter aimed at EU citizens.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Charles Michel as President of the European Council‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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