She’s not a bad choice, but she was very badly chosen: The EU crisis will continue with Ursula von der Leyen. It could even deepen.
Let us be honest: it could have been worse. Compared to José Barroso and Jean-Claude Juncker – the last two Commission heads – Von der Leyen is not such a bad choice.
Alright, Margrethe Vestager would have been better. It would also have been better to first let the European Parliament work instead of taking it by surprise with a candidate from the back room.
But that was impossible with Council President Donald Tusk, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the other EU leaders. They sought – and won – the power struggle with parliament.
Von der Leyen made the best of this impossible situation (“Mission impossible”). Her application speech in the European Parliament was good, as even some Greens admit.
And yet: the first President of the Commission – and the first German to hold this post since Walter Hallstein – was badly elected, and even damn badly. Here are the reasons:
- She has no proper home base. All German parties – except CDU and CSU – voted against it in the European Parliament: SPD, Greens, Left and AfD. Not even Chancellor Merkel wanted to acknowledge her nomination – she pushed French President Macron forward.
- She has a weak basis in parliament. The election result was close, the election annoyed the conservatives and divided the sozis. There was no “pro-European majority”, the Greens were out, and several rights must have voted for the VdL.
- She has made many promises that will not easily find a majority in the Council – the representation of the EU countries. But due to its own weak base in Berlin and Strasbourg, she will be completely dependent on the Council – and above all on Macron and Orban there.
My forecast, therefore, is that the EU crisis will continue. The leadership crisis has not been resolved – because Von der Leyen is not yet leading. Whether she can lead it at all remains to be seen.
The dispute over the future direction will continue. The new EU boss stands for “more Europe”, but Germany wants to give less money, Eastern Europe and Italy will stand in her way.
And then there is the crisis of confidence – it could get even worse. Nobody elected VdL in the European elections, and citizens’ confidence in the EU is likely to dwindle further.
In Germany, their home country, of all places, mistrust already prevails. But psst, one shall not talk about all these old affairs and scandals….
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator