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Von der Leyen wants a second term as EU Commission President

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Von der Leyen wants a second term as EU Commission President

As of: February 19, 2024 2:26 p.m

Ursula von der Leyen is aiming for a second term as EU Commission President. The CDU federal executive board nominated her as the top candidate for the European elections at the beginning of June. There is a good chance that she can remain president.

The CDU federal executive board has unanimously nominated EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as the top candidate for the European elections at the beginning of June. CDU leader Friedrich Merz confirmed this in a joint press conference in Berlin. Von der Leyen had previously declared her willingness to stand for a second term in office.

Merz emphasized that it was von der Leyen’s credit that Europe stayed together during the difficult years of the corona pandemic. It has a high reputation in the member states and far beyond. The central message for the European elections is to ensure security and prosperity in the coming years.

Clear signal from the CSU too

The CSU also supports von der Leyen’s nomination for another term of office. “As President of the Commission, she is the natural top candidate for the Union in the European elections,” wrote CSU boss Markus Söder on the short message service X (formerly Twitter). “She has demonstrated strong leadership over the past five years and has led Europe well through crises. The CSU will provide her with strong support.” Söder emphasized that von der Leyen would “form a strong duo” with CSU deputy and EVP leader Manfred Weber.

Criticism from the Greens

However, sharp criticism comes from MEPs from the Greens. They criticize the fact that von der Leyen wants a second term as EU Commission President but is not running in the European elections. It is irritating that von der Leyen will not be found anywhere on the ballot paper, said the German Greens’ delegation spokesman in the European Parliament, Rasmus Andresen.

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MP Daniel Freund, who comes from North Rhine-Westphalia, made similar comments. “Von der Leyen was made President of the Commission by the heads of government. That’s how things should work again now,” he said. With her refusal to run for the European Parliament, von der Leyen is damaging European democracy. “She obviously doesn’t dare to face the voters’ vote,” Freund added. “Running for office without being eligible for election reduces the top candidate principle to absurdity.”

Von der Leyen was not the first choice in 2019

The position of EU Commission President must be filled after the European elections in June. As a rule, a candidate from the European party family that performs best in the European elections is appointed. The EPP is clearly ahead in surveys so far. There is therefore a good chance that von der Leyen can remain president.

The CDU politician surprisingly became Commission President in 2019. Initially, the EPP’s top candidate at the time, Manfred Weber (CSU), claimed the post. But it failed, particularly due to the resistance of French President Emmanuel Macron. A stalemate that lasted for days followed before the EU heads of state and government were able to agree on von der Leyen. She was only narrowly confirmed by the EU Parliament, but in the top job she then earned a reputation as a capable manager of the mammoth Brussels authority.

As President of the EU Commission, von der Leyen is in charge of around 32,000 employees who, among other things, make proposals for new EU laws and monitor compliance with the European Treaties. The 65-year-old 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”.

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Corona pandemic and Ukraine war

Von der Leyen’s term in office so far has been shaped primarily by the Corona crisis and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. During the pandemic, the EU Commission organized, among other things, the joint procurement of vaccines and developed a huge reconstruction program for the economy. In connection with the war in Ukraine, the authority is now particularly responsible for organizing support for the country attacked by Russia and making proposals for sanctions against Russia.

Other important areas of responsibility of the authority include European trade, competition and environmental policy. Von der Leyen is particularly interested in the goal of making the EU the first climate-neutral economic power in the world by 2050.

Doctorate in medicine

Before moving to Brussels, von der Leyen was, among other things, Defense Minister under then Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). The mother of seven children has a doctorate in medicine and has also served as Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Labor Minister and Social Affairs Minister in Lower Saxony.

Von der Leyen was born in Brussels in 1958 – the year in which Walter Hallstein became the first and, until von der Leyen, the last German head of the Commission. Von der Leyen’s father, the later Lower Saxony Prime Minister Ernst Albrecht, worked for this commission. The daughter went to the European school – which is why she speaks French and English well.

EPP Congress on March 7th

The election of the EPP candidate for the post of EU Commission President is scheduled to take place at a party congress on March 7th. It is certain that von der Leyen will receive the necessary majority of votes there. Possible opposing candidates are not yet known. In addition to the German CDU and CSU, the European EVP party family includes, among others, the Austrian ÖVP, the Italian Forza Italia and Spain’s conservative People’s Party PP.

Vera Wolfskämpf, ARD Berlin, tagesschau, February 19, 2024 4:14 p.m

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