Ursula von der Leyen elected EU Commission president
German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen is the newly-elected president of the EU Commission following a vote by MEPs.
Having received support from over half of the MEPs present at the vote on Tuesday, the centre-right politician will assume office on November 1 replacing the outgoing Jean-Claude Juncker.
Von der Leyen is the first woman to be elected EU Commission president, and will head the body responsible for drafting EU law and enforcing the bloc’s rules.
In the aftermath of her victory, von der Leyen said: “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.
“It is a big responsibility and my work starts now. Let us work together constructively”.
The newly elected president of the European Council, Belgian leader Charles Michel, said: “I wish to congratulate [Mrs von der Leyen]. Let’s work together in the interest of all Europeans”.
Von der Leyen secured victory by a margin of 383 votes to 327.
She has pledged that the EU will play a bigger role in social welfare in a bid to crack down on poverty and also promised to champion women’s rights.
Von der Leyen also hopes to give a “right of initiative” to the European Parliament, meaning the Commission would need to legislate on MEPs’ resolutions, rather than the Commission alone having the power to draft EU law.
Despite wanting to preserve the right for people to seek humanitarian asylum in Europe, von der Leyen has pledged to address immigration concerns by increasing the number of EU border force staff to 10,000 by 2024.
She has also hinted that she would allow a further extension to the UK’s Brexit deadline if necessary, provided it was “for good reason”.
The Brussels-born defence minister has faced scrutiny in Germany over lack of initiative in her ministry role, overseeing over a military force which is consistently short on resources, yet reaction to her election victory has been largely positive.
Her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, tweeted: “This job is a huge responsibility and a challenge. I am sure you will make a great president”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel added: “Even if I lose a long-standing minister today, I win a new partner in Brussels. I am therefore looking forward to good co-operation”.
The outgoing President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, also tweeted: “Congratulations Ursula von der Leyen. Congratulations Europe”.