Belgian commissioner returns to national politics

To participate in upcoming Belgian general elections on 10 June, Development Commissioner Louis Michel is being temporarily replaced by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

According to a Commission statement, Michel will be on unpaid leave from 12 May to 10 June 2007, when the Belgian general elections take place. However, he said that he would maintain his position within the Commission until his mandate expires in 2009.

“I think it is important to take action for these elections, which are vital for the future of the country,” he told Belgian TV channel RTL.

His liberal Reform Movement (MR) party, currently part of the governing coalition, will list him as a candidate for the Belgian senate.

Michel is not the first Commissioner to return to national politics during his mandate. Under the Prodi Commission, Anna Diamantopoulou left the Commission in 2004 to participate in Greek national elections. Michel himself joined the Commission in 2004 to replace Philippe Busquin, who left to join the European Parliament.

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