(CNN) -- King Albert II of Belgium is abdicating his throne, effective July 21, he announced Wednesday.
His son Crown Prince Philippe will succeed him, he said in a nationally televised address.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso issued a statement about the move.
"It is with deep emotion that I hear the announcement of the abdication of His Majesty King Albert II. On behalf of the European Commission and on my own behalf, I wish to express to him my sincere thanks for his tireless efforts in the service of Belgium and Europe," the statement read.
Throughout his 20-year reign, Albert "has never ceased to be a staunch defender of the values that are the basis of the European construction," the statement said.
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