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2 Jul, 2019 20:17

European Council appoints new leaders: Who are they? Quick facts

European Council appoints new leaders: Who are they? Quick facts

The European Council has agreed on nominations for the future leadership of four top EU bodies after three days of intense negotiations. The results were posted on Twitter by current Council President Donald Tusk.

Ursula von der Leyen - European Commission President

The leaders agreed to nominate German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen to be the next European Commission president. Von der Leyen, who was born in Brussels, would become the first female president of the Commission. 

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Von der Leyen has had a varied career, coming to politics later in life after a career in medicine as a gynaecologist. She is also a mother of seven and speaks fluent English and French. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her nomination had been approved "without any opposition."

Charles Michel - European Council President 

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel was named as Tusk’s replacement. Michel will be the second Belgian to take the role, which was first held by Herman Van Rompuy in 2007.

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Michel announced his resignation as PM after a no-confidence vote against his government last year, but still heads the caretaker government, with political talks continuing following an inconclusive election in May.

Josep Borrell Fontelles - High Rep. for Foreign Affairs

Spain's Josep Borrell Fontelles, a former European Parliament president, was tapped to become High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. 

As Spanish Foreign Minister, Fontelles has hailed European cooperation with China, expressing interest in its ‘Belt and Road’ global trade and infrastructure initiative and hinting at wider EU-China cooperation in the future.

He previously worked as an engineer for Spain's state petroleum company Campsa. In 2012, he was forced to resign from his role as President of the European University Institute allegations of conflicts of interest relating to his energy interests.

Christine Lagarde — President of the European Central Bank

Current chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde was chosen to head the European Central Bank. 

Lagarde is a former French finance minister and lawyer who took the reins at the IMF after her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned in 2012 over sexual assault and rape allegations. 

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On Twitter, Lagarde said she had decided to "temporarily relinquish” her responsibilities as IMF Managing Director during the nomination period after consulting with the ethics committee.

Lagarde said in May that the ongoing trade spat between the US and China poses a "threat" to the world economy. 

Tusk hailed the new gender balance in the leadership of the EU's top institutions, saying on Tuesday that he was "really happy" about it. "After all, Europe is a woman. I think that it was worth waiting for such an outcome,” he added.

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