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Von der Leyen nominated for second term as EU Commission President

Von der Leyen nominated for second term as EU Commission President
Von der Leyen nominated for second term as EU Commission President

Just three weeks after the European elections, Ursula von der Leyen has overcome another hurdle on the way to a second term as President of the European Commission. Now the probably biggest one follows.

The European Council has nominated CDU politician Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as President of the EU Commission. The body of heads of state and government of the 27 EU states also decided that former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa will be the next President of the European Council and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas will be appointed as the new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs. This was announced by several delegations on Thursday in Brussels on the sidelines of an EU summit.

Thanks to an agreement reached by the major European party families in the middle of the week, it was already almost certain before the summit began that the top posts would be given to von der Leyen, the Social Democrat Costa and the Liberal Kallas.

The presidency of the EU Commission is by far the most important position to be filled after the European elections. The incumbent is responsible for around 32,000 employees who, among other things, make proposals for new EU laws and monitor compliance with the European treaties. In addition, the Commission President sits at the table as the EU representative at almost all major international summits such as the G7 or G20.

European election result was the basis for negotiations

The basis for the personnel package is the result of the European elections almost three weeks ago. The centre-right EPP alliance, with CDU politician Ursula von der Leyen as the lead candidate, achieved by far the best result. It now wants to form an informal coalition in parliament with the second-placed party family of the Social Democrats (S&D) and the Liberals (Renew).

The EPP – which also includes the CDU and CSU – was led by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, while the Social Democrats were led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. The Liberals relied on French President Emmanuel Macron and outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as their lead negotiators.

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Italy’s Prime Minister angry about trial

Among those angered by the process was Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. She criticised the fact that she was not directly involved in the talks on the personnel package despite the good results of her party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) in the European elections. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban also railed against the process.

However, their consent was not needed, as unanimity was not required. Only at least 20 EU states had to agree, representing at least 65 percent of the EU population.

At the summit on Thursday, several heads of government tried to calm the waters and explain that the aim was not to exclude anyone. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, for example, said: “There is no Europe without Italy, and there is no decision without Prime Minister Meloni. That is very clear to me.”

Von der Leyen still needs a majority in Parliament

In order for Ursula von der Leyen to be able to serve a second term, she must now get the support of a majority in Parliament. The informal alliance of the EPP, Social Democrats and Liberals theoretically has a comfortable majority of around 400 of the 720 votes. However, it is considered possible that a certain number of MPs will deviate from the group line in the secret ballot and not vote for the German.

That is why von der Leyen is currently trying to get votes from members of other parties, especially those from the Greens. Representatives of the party have recently repeatedly signalled their willingness to talk.

According to Parliament President Roberta Metsola, the vote in the Parliament in Strasbourg could be organized as early as the third week of July.

Source: Stern

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