As Group of 20 leaders lined up individual talks with their preferred counterparts at this weekend’s summit in New Delhi, some found dueling requests in their in-box from the European Union.
(Bloomberg) — As Group of 20 leaders lined up individual talks with their preferred counterparts at this weekend’s summit in New Delhi, some found dueling requests in their in-box from the European Union.
The EU’s twin leadership of Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, who have had their disagreements in the past, each held separate bilateral meetings with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, according to people familiar with the matter.
When some tried to combine both meetings to hear a single EU view, they were refused, one of the people said. All asked not to named because the talks were private. The only trilateral meeting the EU leaders held together in New Delhi was with the host, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
An EU official said that the bilaterals were positive and the results were good.
Duplicate diplomacy by Von der Leyen — president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm — and Michel, who as president of the Council organizes summits of the 27 EU leaders, risks undermining the bloc’s efforts to portray unity and strength at a time of geopolitical competition with the US and China.
Simultaneously appointed in 2019, the two have clashed before. Tensions rose to the surface in 2021 when both visited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his Ankara palace. On that occasion, Michel took the only chair offered beside Erdogan, while Von der Leyen was left to sit on a sofa across from then-Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The diplomatic incident came to be known in Brussels circles as “Sofagate.”
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