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Ursula Von der Leyen nominated to stay in EU’s top job

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Legend, Emmanuel Macron (right) was among European leaders who reached consensus to nominate Ursula von der Leyen (left) for a second term

  • Author, Bethany Bell
  • Role, BBC News, in Brussels

EU leaders nominated current European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for a second five-year term as head of the bloc at a summit in Brussels.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has been chosen as the EU’s next foreign affairs chief and former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has been chosen as the next chair of EU summits.

All three candidates belong to centrist and pro-European factions.

The European Parliament must decide on the appointments of Ms von der Leyen and Ms Kallas.

Ms. von der Leyen comes from the German center-right, Mr. Costa is a socialist and Ms. Kallas is liberal.

The leadership package represents continuity for the EU at a time of geopolitical uncertainty. This comes despite a surge in support for far-right parties in European Parliament elections earlier this month.

But Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni opposed it.

Before the summit, she said the plans ignored the successes of far-right parties like hers in recent European Parliament elections.

Ms Meloni has worked to cultivate a constructive relationship with the EU political mainstream, but she abstained from voting for Ms von der Leyen and voted against Mr Costa and Ms Kallas.

Ms Meloni, who leads the right-wing bloc of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) in the European Parliament, was notably not included in the negotiations over the appointments, although the ECR has become the third largest group in Parliament after the European elections.

Speaking to the Italian parliament on Wednesday, she angrily said European voters had asked the EU to “take a different path than the one it has taken so far”.

Without naming names, she criticized “those who argue that citizens are not mature enough to make certain decisions and (who believe) that oligarchy is essentially the only acceptable form of democracy.”

Approval by the European Parliament could prove more delicate.

Ms von der Leyen needs 361 votes to be confirmed for a second term. In theory, the support of the centre-right European People’s Party, the Liberals and the Social Democrats would be enough for her. But the margin is tight.

Diplomats say Ms von der Leyen may seek to win Ms Meloni’s support by giving Italy a powerful position on the commission.

“I would like to express clearly and simply my gratitude to the leaders who supported my nomination for a second term as President of the European Commission,” said von der Leyen.

If approved by the European Parliament, one of its main tasks will be to see how Brussels can continue to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia – something that could be complicated if Donald Trump wins the US presidential election in November.

Legend, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has been named the next EU foreign affairs chief.

Ms. Kallas is also a staunch supporter of Ukraine and a hawkish critic of the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Moscow put her on a wanted list after her government removed Soviet-era war monuments.

Some critics have expressed concern that her hardline stance could pose an obstacle to her new role as the EU’s top diplomat, both externally and within the bloc itself.

Ms Kallas said she was “truly honoured by the support” and described the role as a “huge responsibility”.

“My objective is clearly to work for European unity and to protect European interests. »

Mr Costa congratulated Ms Kallas and Ms von der Leyen, saying: “I am sure that our collaboration will be very fruitful in the service of Europe and European citizens.”

“Europe and the world are indeed facing difficult times,” he said after his appointment.

“But the European Union has demonstrated its resilience in the past, always finding strength in unity, and building unity among member states will be my main priority when I take office in December, focusing on putting towards the strategic agenda that the European Council approved today. »

Legend, Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa chosen as next president of EU summits

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News Source : www.bbc.com

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