Features

A tough road ahead for new EU president

The new president of the European Commission, Germany's Ursula von der Leyen, has her work cut out.

956-UVDL-634

Von der Leyen bloomed with Green support

The Germans have a saying that "elected is elected and a majority is a majority", but Ursula von der Leyen "will take office with her authority already dented" after scraping through her confirmation as president of the European Commission by "just nine votes", says The Economist.

The role, generally seen as the most important job in the EU, puts her in charge of the Commission, which manages the EU's day-to-day affairs and proposes legislation. But the narrowness of her victory, and the fact that it depended on a last minute change of heart by MEPs from the hard-right ruling parties in Poland and Hungary, means she faces a difficult task.

Von der Leyen's "razor-thin" victory is a win for national governments in their fight for control of the Commission, says Lionel Laurent for Bloomberg. The appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker five years ago appeared to set a precedent that the largest grouping in the European Parliament would get to nominate the president. But the decision to appoint Von der Leyen, previously Germany's defence minister, after closed-door negotiations between national leaders, suggests "the pendulum has swung back".

Von der Leyen's policy promises on environmental issues, social policy and gender equality may have won over enough sceptics in the socialist, green and liberal camps for her to scrape through, say Alex Barker and Mehreen Khan in the Financial Times, but it also alienated many of those in her own centre-right party, "dozens" of whom voted against her. This doesn't bode well for her chances of getting the proposals through a highly fragmented Parliament.

Still, a majority remains a majority, says Politico. Even if populists and eurosceptics oppose her proposals, she may still get much of her agenda through with the support of the greens she wooed at the last minute.It was "the most intense two weeks of my political life", she told reporters after her victory. A still tougher road lies ahead.

Recommended

How the Covid-19 vaccine crisis is putting the EU in danger
EU Economy

How the Covid-19 vaccine crisis is putting the EU in danger

The botched coronavirus vaccine campaign will cause long-term harm to the EU's economy, says Matthew Lynn.
4 Apr 2021
How the vaccine wars will harm us all
Global Economy

How the vaccine wars will harm us all

Grabbing and hoarding vaccine supplies, or even manufacturing one’s own, might seem to make sense for a state in an emergency. But the damage done to …
27 Mar 2021
The European Central Bank fumbles its way towards yield curve control
EU Economy

The European Central Bank fumbles its way towards yield curve control

The EU’s economic recovery is faltering, but its bond yields keep rising. That makes things tricky for the European Central Bank, says John Stepek. He…
12 Mar 2021
Vexing vaccine delays hit drug firms
Biotech stocks

Vexing vaccine delays hit drug firms

AstraZeneca and Pfizer are being attacked by the EU over what it claims are delays in delivering the Covid vaccine.
28 Jan 2021

Most Popular

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it
Bitcoin

The bitcoin bubble will burst: here’s how to play it

The cryptocurrency’s price has soared far beyond its fundamentals, says Matthew Partridge. Here, he looks at how to short bitcoin.
12 Apr 2021
Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now
Investment trusts

Four investment trusts for income investors to buy now

Some high-yielding listed lending funds have come through the crisis with flying colours. David Stevenson picks four of the best.
12 Apr 2021
Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?
Bitcoin

Central banks are rushing to build digital currencies. What are they, and what do they mean for you?

As bitcoin continues to soar in value, many of the world’s central banks are looking to emulate it by issuing their own digital currencies. But centra…
8 Apr 2021