President of Romania may become candidate for post of European Council head

World 11:45 11.01.2024

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is seeking to become the next European Council president, according to people familiar with his plans, vying for the post that will likely be vacated early due to Charles Michel’s unexpected announcement that he’ll run for a seat in parliament, Ednews informs referring to Bloomberg.

Iohannis joins a small list of former EU leaders — including Italy’s Mario Draghi and Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel — whose names have been floated as possible candidates for the job, which is one of the European Union’s most senior. The council president chairs the meetings of the 27 EU leaders and represents the bloc on issues related to foreign policy.

Michel’s announcement has thrown the process of allocating the EU’s senior roles — a complicated system that takes into account candidates’ nationality and political affiliation — into chaos, kicking off the inevitable horse-trading months ahead of schedule. Typically, negotiations begin following the European elections, after which the posts of European Commission president, council president and others are selected.

If Michel is elected in June, he could step down from his current role in July, before his term is scheduled to end in November. If there is no agreement on a replacement, the role could be assumed in the interim by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban because his country will be holding the EU’s six-month rotating presidency.

The upcoming Hungarian presidency is worrying EU leaders and may become a strong incentive for compromise after the elections, particularly since Orban has been blocking aid for Ukraine. He’s also questioned whether Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine should be called a “war” and was the only EU leader to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin since an international arrest warrant was issued against him for alleged war crimes.

Bettel, a former prime minister of Luxembourg and the current foreign minister, told RTL on Monday that he isn’t currently a candidate and wants to remain in his home country.

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