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European elections: EPP names Ursula von der Leyen as top candidate

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European elections: EPP names Ursula von der Leyen as top candidate

There was no competition: the incumbent EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is again the European Conservatives’ candidate for the office in June.

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CDU politician Ursula von der Leyen has officially been nominated as the candidate of the European party family EPP for a second term as President of the EU Commission. This was decided at a congress of the European People’s Party in the Romanian capital Bucharest.

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In the secret vote, she received 400 of the 499 votes, as the EPP announced. 89 delegates voted against von der Leyen, ten voted invalidly. In addition to the German CDU and CSU, the EPP includes the Italian Forza Italia, Spain’s conservative People’s Party PP, and the Austrian ÖVP.

The position of EU Commission President must be filled after the European elections at the beginning of June. The heads of state and government then decide on this, and the European Parliament must agree. The German Union parties proposed von der Leyen as the top European candidate in February.

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As a rule, a candidate from the European party family that performs best in the election is appointed. The EPP is ahead in surveys so far. There is therefore a good chance that von der Leyen will be able to remain in the office she has held since December 1, 2019.

Peace, security, freedom and prosperity

In a speech at the congress, von der Leyen cited the fight for peace, security, freedom and prosperity as a focus of her election campaign. “The signal from Bucharest today is that the EPP stands for Europe, for a strong, secure, peaceful, prosperous, democratic and united Europe,” said the 65-year-old.

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With a view to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, she assured the attacked country of further support – “for as long as necessary”. Russia “tried to sweep Ukraine away from the world.” The EPP supports the plan to create a new post of Defense Commissioner in the future Commission.

Von der Leyen named climate and agricultural policy as another focus for the election campaign. It is still about protecting the environment but still remaining economically competitive. In view of the ongoing protests by farmers, von der Leyen emphasized that it was unacceptable that some had to sell their products below the value of the production costs.

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Europe’s “strong voice in the world”

CDU leader Friedrich Merz also took part in the congress and praised von der Leyen for her work before the official results were announced. She “gave Europe a strong voice in the world” and showed leadership in the corona pandemic as well as during the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine over the past four and a half years.

He also warned that Europe should not rely solely on NATO. It is true that “we are all deeply committed to NATO and our transatlantic partnership,” he said. “But we Europeans shouldn’t just rely on NATO. We also have to take care of ourselves, of our own defense against any aggression.”

As President of the EU Commission, von der Leyen is in charge of around 32,000 employees who, among other things, prepare proposals for new EU laws and monitor compliance with the European Treaties. The CDU politician also sits at the table as an EU representative at almost all major international summits such as the G7 or G20.

The US Magazine Forbes recently named von der Leyen the “most powerful woman in the world”. Before moving to Brussels, von der Leyen was, among other things, Defense Minister under then Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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