Ursula von der Leyen aims for a second term at the head of the European Commission

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Kenya Nicol


Ursula von der Leyen, current President of the European Commission, recently announced her intention to stand for a second term. At a press conference, she stressed the importance of “defending ourselves against those who divide us from within and without”, and declared that “this is the task I have set myself”.

Ursula von der Leyen, one step ahead

Over the past five years, von der Leyen has faced a variety of challenges, from Brexit to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Although her election in 2019 came as a surprise, she approaches this campaign with more experience.

Although this decision comes against a complex political backdrop due to the far-right’s stated ambitions, 65-year-old Ursula von der Leyen is going into the campaign this time with a head start.

The European elections, scheduled for June 6-9, are of crucial importance for the renewal of the European Union’s main institutions. The European People’s Party (EPP), to which the CDU belongs, appears to be leading in the polls, and is expected to nominate von der Leyen to head its list at a congress in March.

The far right back in force

Despite this, the far right is expressing its ambitions, and exploiting voters’ concerns about the economic downturn, environmental regulations and asylum policy.

Polls reveal a significant rise in the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, which includes parties such as the Rassemblement National (RN, France), Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, Germany’s AfD and Austria’s FPÖ. This rise could make ID the third largest group in the European Parliament, with potential implications for migration policy and environmental legislation.

ID could become the third largest group in the Strasbourg hemicycle. It would overtake the liberals of Renew, who are neck-and-neck with the other growing radical right-wing group around Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia, the Polish Law and Justice party (PiS) and Spain’s Vox.

The Green Pact at risk

While the radical right may emerge stronger from the elections, it could nonetheless harden migration policy and make it more difficult to adopt many texts, particularly environmental legislation.

Faced with this competition, conservative EPP members are also hardening their stance against the Green Pact’s flagship legislative projects, including a more watered-down text on nature restoration and a law to reduce the use of pesticides, which they helped to reject.

This situation could well put Ursula von der Leyen at odds if her own party asks her to reverse the main achievements of her mandate: “from the postponement of climate action to the suspension of enlargement and reform of the Union”, observes Alberto Alemanno, professor of European law at HEC Paris, on X.

Donald Trump may return to the US presidency

Faced with criticism of environmental regulations, Ursula von der Leyen announces a “new phase” of the Green Pact, focusing on business competitiveness.

Strengthening European defense is also likely to be a key issue for the future Commission, at a time when Europeans are worried about a possible return of Donald Trump to the presidency.

Donald Trump’s possible return to the US presidency, which could call into question Washington’s role in collective security pacts. If re-elected, Ursula von der Leyen wants to create a new post of Commissioner for Defence.

Commissioner. “We need to strengthen Europe’s defense capability, and I’m thinking first and foremost of the industrial base,” she said on Monday. She also attacked the “extreme forces that stand in the way of democracy in Europe”, whose adversaries are “Putin and his friends”, among whom she cited Marine le Pen’s RN. The Social Democrats are due to nominate their candidate for the Commission presidency at the beginning of March.

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