BRUSSELS, November 10./TASS/. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hasn’t been invited to a meeting between European Council President Charles Michel and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali due to tensions between the two European politicians, Politico, an American publication, wrote on Thursday citing a number of EU officials.
In the nearly three years since their tenures began, relations between Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel "have undergone an extraordinary breakdown, with staff from the two institutions discouraged from communicating and the two leaders locking each other out from meetings with foreign dignitaries," the paper wrote.
As the newspaper notes, Ursula von der Leyen was not invited to the meeting with the Chinese leader, since she refused to allow Michel to attend a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 meeting in Germany in June.
The two avoid each other, "with staffers involved in organizing the trip under strict instructions to avoid any overlap in itineraries," Politico added.
This kind of relationship affects the legislative and political agenda of the European Union, also threatening to undermine its positions in the international arena. Tensions between the European Commission and the European Council also stand in the way of establishing communication with other international organizations and third countries. "During rolling discussions on the global food crisis, United Nations representatives were surprised when a senior EU staffer who had previously been part of the talks was suddenly cut out of subsequent meetings," Politico cited an example.
According to an EU official, the relationship of the two politicians started off calmly, with "some minor hiccups, but nothing unexpected". However, things fell apart in April, after a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Cameras caught von der Leyen’s shocked reaction when Michel quickly snagged the only chair next to the Turkish president, leaving her to sit on a couch across from the Turkish foreign minister," the paper said. The incident went viral on the Internet.
Politico’s interlocutors agree that both politicians are to blame for the conflict, with their personal qualities playing a role. The inter-institutional relationship has never been so poor, Politico cited a longtime EU official as saying.