Charles Michel on using private jets: “I don’t book those flights myself, it’s me” | outside

Charles Michel rejects criticism of his use of private jets. “They are independent officials who are always analyzing the best way to move and make an offer.”

Michel, president of the European Council of Heads of Government, responded this morning with an interview standard And no libre for the criticism it has received yet Le Monde He wrote last weekend about the sharply increasing costs of the trips he takes for his work. He also chose a private jet or his official chauffeur-driven car to Paris last year, a distance that can be covered from Brussels within an hour and a half by train.

“Charles Michel has an exemplary job, but unfortunately he is not an example,” said MEP Paul Tang (PvdA) yesterday. “A little bit of the Dutch economy – especially when it comes to public money – is advisable.” Tang and other MEPs, like several high-ranking Commission officials and Dutch diplomats, take the train from Brussels to destinations like Paris. Strasbourg.

Michelle Today: …it’s true that I drove to Paris instead of taking the train. I did not decide. There are security measures. And I had confidential conversations during the trip that I couldn’t have on the train.”


The 47-year-old Belgian frets that he is only being looked at and not in the European Commission: European institutions have a joint contract with a private jet lessor. “The rules for using private jets are the same for the Council (which represents member states, ed.) and the Commission, and both institutions use them equally. But there is an impression that we are seeing deviations and that using the Commission is normal,” he told interviewees.

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He also gives an explanation for this: “There may be an attempt to destabilize and intimidate me and the Council. I know how it works and I do not think it is a coincidence that the increasing role of the Council and the European Union in the international arena may disturb some actors. The Brussels bubble and there are also people with ambitions.


Only 460,000 euros to travel to Beijing. Do you understand that this can shock?

It remains unclear whether by this he meant Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission with whom he maintains a difficult relationship, especially after he himself took the seat next to President Erdogan during an official visit to Turkey in 2021, causing von der Leyen to appear. Leyen had to sit uncomfortably on the sofa.


The European Commission is the European institution that proposes legislation and implements laws once they are passed. These proposals are endorsed by the Council of Ministers of the Member States and the European Parliament, usually after making substantial modifications. The European Council, chaired by Michel, is the “summit” of heads of government that meets every few months to define broad lines.

There has always been a certain rivalry between institutions over who represents the European Union on the world stage, but the rivalry between Michel and von der Leyen is greater than ever. As far as they are concerned, both of them are far from the end of their political careers. According to critics, Michel’s style is relatively loose, while Von der Leyen’s is more disciplined. She actually lives at work and has a small apartment built in the committee office.

Only 460,000 euros to travel to Beijing. Do you understand that this can be shocking? ”, the interviewers ask. (Von der Leyen made a scheduled visit to China.) Michelle: Well, I understand it’s expensive and I understand the sensitivities about private flights. But the devices carefully checked whether there was an alternative here, there was even a connection with the Belgian army. I regret that the way it is presented distracts from the core issue: what place in the world do people want for the European Union? “

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