Herman Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton, the president of the European Council and the European Union's foreign policy chief, announced this weekend that they will step down from their offices next year.
Van Rompuy, who is 65, said that he would retire from politics next year, when his current term in office – his second – ends. Under the EU's Treaty of Lisbon, which created the post of permanent president of the European Council in 2009, he cannot stand for a third two-and-a-half-year term in office.
Van Rompuy, a prominent Flemish Christian Democrat and former prime minister of Belgium, told Flemish broadcaster VRT that he would not campaign in Belgium's parliamentary election in June 2014.
Ashton, who was appointed together with Van Rompuy in November 2009, said that the job of foreign policy chief – also an innovation of the Lisbon treaty – should go to someone else when her five-year term ends on 1 December 2014.