19 Feb 2024, 15:33
Benjamin Wehrmann

Von der Leyen seeks second term as European Commission president

dpa / Reuters / Der Spiegel / Zeit Online / Politico / Tagesspiegel / Augsburger Allgemeine

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is seeking a second term at the helm of the EU’s executive branch. Von der Leyen’s conservative party, Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), proposed the 65-year-old former defence minister as the European conservative's (EPP) lead candidate for the upcoming European elections, news agencies dpa and Reuters reported on news website Der Spiegel. In an article on Zeit Online, Hendrik Wüst, CDU state premier of Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia, told news magazine Politico a second term for von der Leyen would be “a symbol of stability” that is needed at a difficult time for the EU. CDU leader Friedrich Merz already last year said he would back another term for von der Leyen. Jean-Claude Juncker, former head of Luxembourg’s government as well as of the European Commission, also said von der Leyen had done “a good job” in her first term. “I want her to become president of the Commission again,” Juncker told newspaper Tagesspiegel. The CDU now is set to submit von der Leyen’s bid to become lead candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the June election. The EPP is leading in polls for the elections, making another von der Leyen-led Commission more likely. The EPP is set to choose its lead candidate at a meeting in March.

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Markus Ferber from the CDU’s conservative Bavarian sister party Christian Socialist Union (CSU), criticised von der Leyen’s record as Commission leader, arguing she had “recognised too late that climate action cannot be achieved through bureaucracy”. Pointing at the Europe-wide protests by the farming industry earlier this year against tighter climate and environmental protection regulation, Ferber told newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine that economic competitiveness and the protection of companies should be made the focus of the next European Commission “and not the Green Deal”.

During von der Leyen's first term, the EU has aimed to transform key areas of its climate and energy policies as part of the Green Deal, Europe’s strategy to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Resistance against measures taken in the context of the Green Deal, for example by the farming industry, and the growing popularity of far-right parties that reject key elements of effective climate policy add to the challenges of the next European Commission, which will have to ensure that the 27-member bloc moves to implement ambitious policy and assert itself as a global climate leader.


[CORRECTION: The CDU proposed von der Leyen as top candidate ("Spitzenkandidat") for the EPP in the EU elections. It did not nominate her as the CDU lead candidate, as stated in an earlier version of the article.]

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