Newly Elected President of EU Commission — What to Expect in Future?!
The EU Commission is an executive branch of the EU, which is responsible for proposing new laws, as well as for implementing the EU policies. It also frames the priorities of the expenses and introduces the budget to the EU Parliament and the Council of the EU to prove. Apart from this, the EU Commission represents the EU on the international arena, particularly, in the field of trade and humanitarian aid.
EU Commission composes of 28 commissioners (each from each Member States), who operate under the management of the President. Presidency candidate is usually put forward by the member State leaders (in the European Council). However, last time, in 2013, a new principle of the candidacy selection procedures was practiced. Namely, so-called Spitzenkandidaten was initiated. The principle meant that the leading political parties in the parliament were nominating the presidential candidate, then the debates were held, and the Parliament trusted one of the candidates with the majority of votes. This principle strengthened the democratic process. First Spitzenkandidaten was Jean-Claude Junker, who was a leading candidate of the EPP and he got the majority of votes in the EU Parliament.
The President of the European Commission plays an essential role in the relations between the Parliament and the Commission, guides implementation of the EU policies, and establishes the political agenda of the Commission. She/he also takes part in the G7 and G20 meetings. The post of president of the European Commission was created in 1958, and in every five years, the new president is elected. Just a few days ago, on 16th of July, the EU Parliament elected a new, 13th president — Ursula von der Leyen, who will officially perform her functions from the first of November.
New President of the EU Commission
The new President of the European Commission differs from its predecessors. First of all, the fact that she is the first female president of the European Commission, gives her a historical significance. At the same time, she did not participate in the pre-election debates as “Spitzenkandidaten” (the leading candidate) and according to the certain parties (especially party “Brexit”), she was put forward as a candidate in an undemocratic manner (by the French-German Coalition).
Already president, a former German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen was born in Brussels, in 1958. She moved to Hanover, Germany, in 1971 and graduated from Hanover Medical School in 1987, specializing in gynecology. She began political activities only in the 1990s, at the age of 42. Von der Leyen joined the federal cabinet in 2005, where she served as a Minister for Family and Youth Affairs in 2005–2009. Later, she took the portfolio of Minister of Labor and Social Affairs and even the post of Defense Minister in 2013.
The period of being a defense minister was not free from criticism. She was named as one of the most unpopular ministers by the German magazine “Der Spiegel”, which was largely caused by corruption and favoritism suspicions of hers. According to the new survey, only one out of three German citizens thinks that she would be a good president of the European Commission.
The promises of a newly elected president
Speaking at a plenary session before the European Parliament, Ms. Von der Leyen, as said, promised “too much”. However, the reactions and perceptions were different. If her enthusiasm and precisely made accents, earned the support of the Spanish parliamentarians, in contrary, the Green Party deputies were among those 327 parliamentarians who voted against the candidate. In the end, Von der Leyen has won a majority of votes and holds the post by the 383 votes.
Von der Leyen’s words contained several important points, including the reforms towards economic, social, legislative, immigration and environmental directions.
• She proposed to make Europe Carbon Neutral Continent by 2050 and promised that within 100 days of her presidency she would present “Green Deal” in favor of this initiative ;
• Von der Leyen voiced the idea of granting the right to initiate the law to the EU Parliament, which would facilitate the democratic processes;
• The new President emphasized the importance of gender equality in her speech and said that she would provide the full gender equality of the Commission;
• Von der Leyen also stated that for a good reason she would ensure an extension period for Brexit.
During the speech, the president also touched upon migration issues and talked about the necessity of creating dignified conditions for refugees, but at the same time condemned illegal, irregular migration and trafficking cases that are part of organized crimes.
Reactions on Ursula Von der Leyen’s speech was, of course, negative from the side of the right-wing parties. Leader of the party — “Brexit”, called her a radical Communist and accused her in calling for the European army. Positions of Hungarian, Polish and Italian leaders were also unenthusiastic.
What should we expect from the newly elected president?
Ursula von der Leyen, as she mentions, spiritually and heartily European, has suddenly appeared on the European political arena, and despite having long-time managerial experience, is not still a popular figure neither in Germany nor in the EU. However, as frequently said, unpopular politicians locally, often achieve more goals and success in the EU.
Among her dignities, one of the most visible ones is her multilingualism, and she can at least earn the loyalty of French people by her fluency in the French language. As for her political program, as noted above, she touched upon almost all areas that are quite sensitive in Europe nowadays. Though along with the great energy and mobilization, she will also need the support of a quite multicolor European Parliament. It is precisely the moment where principality will be necessary, in order to maintain the purpose and avoid populist steps. However, some politicians already praised her choice to stand firmly on the left-wing and not to take a moderate stance for earning right-wing parties’ votes.
On the other hand, the possibility of excessive illusion and misunderstanding the needs of the European population can take the path towards the failed policy. Therefore, the real perception of the situation, the implementation of the relevant policy and the greater involvement of the population in this process will be the best solution.