Pellegrini Content with von der Leyen as European Commission Head

Thursday, 04 Jul, 2019

Von der Leyen, a minister for the past 14 years under German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has been an advocate for closer European Union integration, calling for a "United States of Europe". Mrs von der Leyen is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel and has served in her cabinet for the last 14 years. The mandate of two and a half years of the President of the European Council is renewable once.

European Council president Donald Tusk will be replaced by Belgian PM Charles Michel.

At the same time, World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva's bid still holds, with the EPP leaders that oppose Timmermans' candidacy still considering her, even if the Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov disapproves the plan, as both names fulfil both gender and EPP criteria.

The Green MEP, Ska Keller, also ran for the post as parliament president and secured 119 votes, while the national-conservative Europe of Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) candidate, Jan Zahradil, got the second-most votes, 160, and the far-left candidate, Sira Rego, got 43.

Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager, the lead candidate for the liberals in May's parliament election, were put forward as deputies under von der Leyen in the next Commission, which takes office on November 1. The EPP is still the biggest bloc in the European Parliament, but it is no longer the dominant force it was before the May elections. But she has also had a tough time as German defense minister.

She is a former French finance minister and was the first woman to head up the International Monetary Fund when she took over from her scandal-plagued predecessor Dominique Strauss-Khan, who resigned over allegations of sexual impropriety and assault.

Already plagued by crises including Brexit and deep divisions among nations over how best to manage migration, the leaders had been keen to show that they could make quick decisions and that the European project remained important to its citizens.

The new parliament also opened on Tuesday, during which MEPs from the U.K.'s Brexit Party chose to turn their backs on a group of young people welcoming the new chamber in playing the "Anthem of Europe", based on the "Ode to Joy", from Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Germany's streets were plastered with posters showing the faces of candidates for the EU's top jobs.

He refused to call the fact that the V4 blocked the nomination of Frans Timmermans to the post of EC head a victory for the V4 as Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, for example, did. The Commission is composed of the College of 28 Commissioners (there will only be 27 after the United Kingdom leaves the EU), one per member state in addition to the president.

Von der Leyen's visit to Strasbourg coincides with the election of the president's speaker, for which an Italian socialist is frontrunner.

Prime minister Antti Rinne said that Finland had actively campaigned on behalf of Rehn and Liikanen in bilateral discussions during the meetings.

Martin Schulz, former European Union parliamentary president and Merkel rival, condemned what he called backroom haggling over top jobs.

Belgian liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel is nominated to interchange European Council President Donald Tusk while Spain's Josep Borrell is proposed as global protection chief. The role coordinates the EU's external and defence policy, which is always a delicate task for member states.

Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he had received a commitment from fellow leaders that a socialist would now lead the European Commission's Economics and Financial Affairs portfolio.