Date
21 October 2019
Ursula von der Leyen reacts after a vote Tuesday in the European parliament that confirmed her as the next European Commission president. Photo: Reuters
Ursula von der Leyen reacts after a vote Tuesday in the European parliament that confirmed her as the next European Commission president. Photo: Reuters

Germany’s Von der Leyen confirmed as next EC president

Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen secured European parliamentary approval on Tuesday to become the first female European Commission president, Reuters reports.

The German conservative got the thumbs up from socialist and liberal lawmakers which, together with the endorsement by her fellow conservatives, gives her a stronger mandate to tackle issues such as climate change, trade and maintaining democracy in the European Union, the report noted.

As head of the EU executive, von der Leyen will be in charge of trade negotiations, economic and climate policy for 500 million Europeans and antitrust rulings involving powerful tech giants.

She secured 383 votes to 327 against, said David Sassoli, speaker of the assembly. The threshold was 374.

“The trust you placed in me is confidence you placed in Europe. Your confidence in a united and strong Europe, from east to west, from south to north,” said von der Leyen, who earlier this week resigned as Germany’s defense minister. “It’s a big responsibility and my work starts now.”

“Let us work together constructively because the endeavor is a united and strong Europe,” she added. The German politician will take up her new role on November 1.

von der Leyen, who has said she is open to giving more time to Britain to negotiate its exit from the bloc, said she will work “in a constructive way” with any new British prime minister.

She declined to say whether she would rather see the favorite Boris Johnson or current foreign minister Jeremy Hunt become the new British leader.

Earlier on Tuesday, she set out her climate goals, going further than current targets, in a bid to convince both socialists and liberals. She had already pledged the ambitious targets in letters to the two groups the previous day.

Her plans include making Europe the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050, launch a Green Deal for Europe in her first 100 days in office, turn parts of the European Investment Bank into a Climate Bank and introduce a Carbon Border Tax.

Von der Leyen promised to defend the rule of law, took aim at US tech giants’ low tax bill in Europe and said she will update EU-wide norms for tackling the migrant issue.

In her biggest cross-party promise, von der Leyen offered to help allow the EU parliament the right to propose new legislation – currently the Commission’s prerogative.

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