EU’s von der Leyen set to win backing for second term from Germany By Reuters

© Reuters. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen takes part in a press conference on the day of a European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium February 1, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

By Andreas Rinke and Riham Alkousaa

BERLIN (Reuters) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to secure the backing of her German centre-right party on Monday for a second term, putting her in a strong position to clinch another five years running the European Union’s executive body.

At a meeting of the party leadership, Germany’s opposition Christian Democrats are set to announce that she will be their candidate for Commission president, confirming a widespread assumption that von der Leyen would seek another term.

The 65-year-old former German defence minister is then likely to become the candidate of the pan-European centre-right umbrella group, the European People’s Party, at a congress in Bucharest in March.

The first woman to hold the job, von der Leyen steered the EU through the COVID-19 pandemic, the formal exit of Britain from the bloc and the ructions following Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

She would begin a second term at a time when Europe is focusing on how to strengthen its security, with Russia waging a war on its borders and the possibility of former U.S. President Donald Trump returning to the White House.

At a security conference in Munich at the weekend, von der Leyen said the Commission would present a defence strategy proposal aimed at fostering higher and more efficient spending with joint procurement and agreements to provide predictability to industry.

The leaders of the EU’s 27 member countries will choose the Commission president after elections to the European Parliament in June.

BROAD BACKING

By convention, they choose a candidate from the grouping that has come first in the EU elections. As polls show the EPP has a strong lead and von der Leyen enjoys broad backing among EU leaders, she seems likely to win another term.

Her highest hurdle may be getting her Commission confirmed by a majority in the Parliament.

Attempting to remain neutral as the Commission’s head for as long as possible, von der Leyen has not yet said publicly whether she wants a second stint.

But last month the head of Germany’s conservatives in the European parliament, Daniel Caspary, made clear he expected the EPP to nominate her.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz and von der Leyen will give a statement on the European election campaign after the party’s federal executive committee later on Monday.

Despite a rise in far-right populist parties in a number of the EU’s 27 states, the EPP, the oldest group in the European parliament, has kept a large lead among other European groups, according to opinion polls.

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