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18 Feb, 2024 16:17

Von der Leyen wants second EU term – Bild

The European Commission president has already spelled out her priorities should she remain in office
Von der Leyen wants second EU term – Bild

Ursula von der Leyen will formally announce her candidacy for a second term as president of the European Commission on Monday, German tabloid Bild has reported. Von der Leyen has already hinted that she seeks a second term, promising on Saturday to appoint a dedicated “defense commissioner” if she holds on to her office.

To secure a second term, von der Leyen will first have to be nominated by her faction in the European Parliament, the centrist European People’s Party (EPP). Speaking to Reuters last month, EPP lawmaker Daniel Caspary said the party would nominate von der Leyen at a congress in March, “if that’s what she wants.”

Should the EPP emerge as the largest party in June’s European elections, which it is projected to do, von der Leyen’s candidacy would then be put before the European Council. From there, a majority vote by the council’s 27 members followed by the parliament’s final approval would see the German installed for another five-year term at the helm of the commission.

Opponents of von der Leyen, chief among them Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, will have few opportunities to stymie her nomination. Despite the fact that Hungary will hold the council’s rotating presidency after the elections, no one member state can veto a majority vote in her favor. Additionally, the EPP is a big-tent organization of centrist and center-right parties, meaning potential dissenters like Italy’s Forza Italia will be easily overruled by von der Leyen’s Christian Democrats and their allies.

Von der Leyen has already strongly suggested that she will seek a second term. “If I would be the president of the next European Commission, I would have a commissioner for defense,” she said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, without spelling out what this commissioner’s responsibilities would be.

Since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine began, von der Leyen has positioned herself as one of Kiev’s most ardent Western backers. She has authorized 12 packages of sanctions on Russia, overseen the dramatic expansion of the so-called ‘European Peace Facility’ – a €12 billion ($12.9 billion) fund used to funnel weapons to Ukraine – and hurried Ukraine’s bid for EU membership through the normally drawn-out application process.

So antagonistic is her relationship to Moscow that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reportedly forbade US President Joe Biden last year from endorsing her bid to succeed Jens Stoltenberg as secretary-general of NATO. According to Germany’s Welt newspaper, Scholz felt that von der Leyen’s hardline anti-Russian stance “could prove to be a disadvantage in the long term.”

Von der Leyen will return to Berlin from Munich on Sunday, and is expected to announce her candidacy after a discussion with her fellow Christian Democrats on Monday, Bild reported.

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