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    Charles Michel is trying to keep Ursula von der Leyen out of key EU meetings

    Charles Michel has a fierce rivalry with Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: ANDRE PAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

    Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, is seeking to bar Ursula von der Leyen from high-level talks to decide whether she should remain president of the European Commission.

    It is the latest twist in their bitter rivalry that has overshadowed the pair's five years at the helm of the European Union.

    Mr Michel has proposed excluding Ms von der Leyen, the European Commission chief, from high-level discussions between EU leaders and heads of state next week to decide who should take the bloc's top jobs after European elections.

    He said Ms von der Leyen should not be allowed to attend as she seeks a second term as the leading candidate for the centre-right European People's Party in discussions with aides.

    It is normal for the commission president to participate in negotiations in the European Council.

    Ursula von der Leyen seeks a second term : Anadolu Agency

    But the current situation is unprecedented , given that the current commission president has never sought a second position in this position.

    “There is some irritation”

    Despite the unusual nature of the talks, Mr Michel is still accused of interfering in the decision-making policy.

    “If he wants to eliminate her from the room, he must eliminate himself,” an EU diplomat told the news site Politico.

    A second source added: “There is some irritation.”

    Animosity between Michel and Ms von der Leyen has been growing since the “couch” row during a joint visit to Turkey in 2021.

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, offered the council president a seat while his fellow EU chief was relegated to the back seat.

    “It happened because I am a woman,” Ms von der Leyen said at the time.

    EU leaders will meet for the first time on June 17 to discuss the fallout from the European Parliament elections, which have seen gains for the far right across the bloc, particularly in France and Germany.

    They will also begin considering candidates for the EU’s three presidents – the Council, the Commission and the Parliament – ​​and its de facto foreign minister.

    Ms von der Leyen is the favourite to keep her job, with António Costa, the controversial Portugal's prime minister is expected to become council president.

    Kaja Kallas, the Estonian prime minister, has signaled she wants to become the bloc's High Representative, the bloc's top foreign diplomat.

    And Roberta Metsola looks set to retain her post as president of the European Parliament.

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