Ursula von der Leyen prepared for the new mandate

2024-02-23 20:46:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

Ursula von der Leyen prepared for the new mandate

The balance of achievements of the German Von der Leyen is obvious. She has no serious challengers. But her re-election is not a done deal, writes Auron Dodi.

The re-election of Ursula von der Leyen was expected. However, she gave herself time and announced her readiness to run only last week. Re-election was considered possible, also because von der Leyen has an undeniable record of achievements at the head of the European Commission.

No other president since the French Jacques Delors has had such weight at the head of the EC. Experts agree on this. At the end of the mandate, Germany Von der Leyen is evaluated as a capable crisis manager. At this point, her balance brings to mind the balance of another German, Angela Merkel, known as a skilled crisis manager at the head of Germany and Europe.

The crises in von der Leyen's mandate have been of historic proportions. The EU government under her leadership has reacted quickly, with European integration steps. Such steps would have taken years or decades under other conditions.

Outline of the EU as a geopolitical factor

The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have been the most challenging developments of Von der Leyen's five-year term. At the top of her mandate, in December 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in China. The consequences of the pandemic shocked the world and the EU. Here, in the field of health, Von der Leyen is credited with organizing the joint purchase of vaccines from the EU.

In February 2022, Russia's war against Ukraine began. The reaction of the EU executive was impressive: negotiations for EU membership were opened for Ukraine; arms purchases were approved for Ukraine; for Ukraine further large financial support was approved by the EU. With these, Ursula von der Leyen took an important step in delineating the EU as a geopolitical factor. She made this promise at the beginning of her mandate.

Other successes of the EC, in its mandate, are those in the economic and energy fields.

With the Pandemic Reconstruction Fund, of 750 billion euros, the EU agreed for the first time to enter into joint debts, that is, it accepted a form of Eurobonds.

In the field of energy, during von der Leyen's mandate, the EU launched the reform of the energy market.

In addition: the EC has adopted protective directives in the trade policy with the world in recent years. At the same time, work has started on the European Green Pact. This Pact aims to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050. But some reforms of this Pact are currently on hold, mainly under the pressure of farmers' protests in Europe.

Ursula von der Leyen's new targets

"EU competitiveness and security in the broadest sense" should be the EU's main priorities, von der Leyen said on Saturday (February 17th) at the Security Conference in Munich.

Especially security, and in this context, defense and the production of armaments are so important to her, that she said she would appoint a special commissioner for this post, if she is re-elected. However, von der Leyen has not officially started the campaign for re-election yet. New French support for von der Leyen?

France is expected to support the German von der Leyen for a second term. According to French media, she has behaved well with France. However, the French media have spread that France does not want to leave anything to chance: support von der Leyen receives if France is given positions with wide powers: a vice-president of the EC and a large portfolio, for Technologies The future of Europe and for Defense. These are central areas of the EU and interest is expected from other countries.

Macron and Von der Leyen as Helmut Kohl and Jacques Delors

Regarding the news that it was France that proposed the German von der Leyen, in 2019, to head the European Commission: Germany has never confirmed this, but neither has it opposed it. Asked about this in 2019, Chancellor Merkel remained silent. However, Merkel then told Macron that "no Frenchman will become president of the European Commission".

And even if the French made the proposal to the German - this would not be unusual. In 1985, it was Helmut Kohli who proposed Jacques Delors as a candidate for EC President to François Mitterrand. Kohli liked Delors' hard-working nature, and said Delors "had a German side to him".

Von der Leyen apparently has support from many European countries for her new candidacy. There are no other serious opponents who could endanger the 65-year-old. Formally, as the main candidate (Spitzenkandidatin), Ursula von der Leyen (the main candidate of the German CDU for the European elections) is expected to be proposed by the EPP (Europeans People's Party) congress in March.

Despite this, her choice is not considered a done deal. This is because of the constellations that can be created in the European Parliament after the European elections, held from June 6 to 9. Possible abandonment of the political center by the EC

In the current extraordinary geopolitical situation, a significant shift of the electorate to the right has occurred almost everywhere in Europe. According to polls, the group of right-wing nationalists ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists) can win more mandates in the elections than the liberals and the Greens. ECR includes Fratelli d'Italia, by Giorgia Meloni. If the ECR wins more than the Greens, the European People's Party (EPP) can enter a coalition with it, the ECR, and the liberals.

This would be a historic step: we would have an abandonment of the center by the European Commission. For decades, the EU has been governed by a political coalition consisting of conservatives, socialists, liberals and the Greens. Despite poll predictions: von der Leyen is very careful not to hurt the Greens with her statements. Many points of the European Green Pact, von der Leyen has suspended in the last two years. This has been forced by developments. According to critics in the European Parliament and in her CDU party, her previous steps in environmental politics had gone too far.

It is the European Parliament that has the last word on the President of the EC, although the proposal is made by the European Council, i.e. the prime ministers and presidents of the states.

"In these five years, not only has my passion for Europe grown, but certainly my experience of how much this Europe can achieve for its people," said von der Leyen on Monday (February 19) in Berlin after being appointed by CDU as the main candidate for the European elections.

Today, five years later, she makes "a very conscious and well thought out decision". Appropriate words. The last time, in the European Parliament, von der Leyen did not have an easy time: he was elected with a small majority - only nine votes above the required majority./ DW

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