European Council President Charles Michel has been hunting for a luxury watch valued at around €20,000, Brussels Signal has learned.
The senior Eurocrat has been roaming watch stores around the European capital, with one vintage-watch shop located in Sablon describing him as searching for a special timepiece.
Speaking to this website, a source described Michel as enquiring about an antique item manufactured by the premier luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe in the 1970s.
An 18-karat yellow gold Ellipse Jumbo model, in excellent condition, was listed with a sales price of €22,000 at the time.
After trying it on and enquiring about its service history, the Council President appeared unsatisfied with the item, ultimately leaving the shop without opening his wallet.
Michel, who is Belgian, appears to have a penchant for expensive watches.
When asked to identify a number of watches Michel has been pictured wearing, an expert within the Sablon shop identified one as a Rolex but was unable to estimate its value.
Another watch the Council President wore was identified as an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, worth between €15,000 and €25,000. The expert insisted that this was a “minimum” evaluation. The timepiece was more likely to be worth around €50,000 mark, with some Royal Oak models going for even more.
Speaking to Brussels Signal, a European Council press source was unable to give comment regarding Michel’s watches. The office was occupied with a forthcoming G20 summit, she said.
The European Commission has rebuffed President of the European Council Charles Michel’s promises to get more countries into the EU by 2030. https://t.co/E1CoAmQRkE
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 30, 2023
Although the European Council claims to take a “prudent approach” to spending, the European Union has found itself pumping more cash into Michel’s own office.
Earlier this year, officials within the bloc agreed to increase the budget of the office of the European Council President from €2 million to €2.5 million next year.
This has been justified with reference to an increase in Michel’s “travel expenses in view of the continuing intense international activity following the war of aggression of Russia against Ukraine”.
The Council President is also taking home a sizeable chunk of EU cash, with The Brussels Times reporting him as earning €32,700 gross monthly as of 2019.
As a civil servant working for a European institution, Michel is also exempt from paying Belgium’s hefty income tax. Belgian workers will pay 50 per cent tax for every euro earned over €46,440 in 2023. Michel pays far more lenient taxes directly to the EU instead.
Some of Michel’s expensive tastes have already raised eyebrows within the Eurobubble, such as his extensive use of private jets.
By contrast, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen appears to have more frugal tastes, with the senior Eurocrat frequently being pictured wearing the same black and gold watch.
The expert was unable to identify the make or model of the watch — though noted it sported some similarities to a Rolex — and speculated that it was likely relatively cheap, at least compared to the various pieces within Michel’s collection.