“My choice has given rise to intense media attention and speculation. I had foreseen some of it, given the unprecedented — some would say bold — nature of my approach,” Michel said in his statement on Facebook, referring to his announcement that he was running in the EU election. But, he added, “I don’t want this decision to distract us from our mission or undermine this institution and our European project nor be misused in any way to divide the European Council, which I believe must work tirelessly for European unity.”
Michel’s surprise decision to run in the European parliamentary elections in June, which would have meant leaving his post months before the end of his term, prompted furious reactions from EU officials, European diplomats and Parliament.
Officials perceived his surprise announcement as a signal that he attached more importance to his political future than to his current role as head of the European Council.
Michel’s move also piled pressure on European leaders to find a compromise on the EU’s top jobs.
Had he been elected as a member of the European Parliament — which was highly likely if he had run — Michel would have had to take office in mid-July, opening the door for Hungary’s Euroskeptic Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to temporarily chair meetings of EU leaders.
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ELECTION POLL OF POLLS
For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.