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'Rutte could have been President of the European Council’

Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel will be the new President of the European Council, but the position could also have gone to Mark Rutte.

Luuk van Middelaar

If he had really wanted, Rutte could have occupied the post according to Professor of European Law Luuk van Middelaar in Dutch NOS news programme Nieuwsuur. 'Like Rutte, Michel is from a liberal party in the Benelux. In the same boxes, but if you ask most colleagues, they think Rutte is three times better than Michel.'

Van Middelaar was advisor to Herman Van Rompuy, former president of the European Council. The fact that Michel and not Rutte will be the new president shows that Rutte really didn’t aspire to a European top position, something that has often been called into doubt according to the professor. 'I think he was speaking the truth all the time. He really didn’t want the job. He opted for Frans Timmermans and fought hard for him. Having both jobs was not an option: the Netherlands couldn’t go for two top positions. The Netherlands aimed high for a single post: President of the European Commission.'

In the end, it didn’t work out: not Timmermans, but the German Ursula von der Leyen has been nominated for President of the European Commission. Timmermans will likely remain Vice-President.

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