European Union. Re-election of Ursula von der Leyen: nothing is decided

A few weeks before the European elections in June, Brussels is in full turmoil. Diplomats and senior European representatives warn: the reappointment of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as head of the Union executive for a new five-year term is far from assured .

According to one of these officials, this is the big topic of discussion at the moment: “This is largely explained by the arrogance of power. She wrongly believed that she could afford anything. That’s why some small mistakes she made are now backfiring on her.” Like other personalities cited in this article, our interlocutor wished to speak on condition of anonymity to speak freely about this all-powerful German political figure within the Brussels bubble.

At the heart of the problem are two major forces that could torpedo Ursula von der Leyen during the tough negotiations expected to follow the elections. France, which maintains stormy relations with Germany, remains very ambiguous about its support, probably in order to obtain concessions; she could well be watching for a last minute opportunity to reshuffle the cards. If the European leader manages to overcome the obstacle of possible dissidence on the side of Paris, she will then have to face another concern, that of knowing whether she can be confirmed in her functions by the new European Parliament, within which the far right should play a bigger role than today.

“Regular” missteps

Furthermore, the likelihood of a reversal appears to be increasing after the series of missteps in recent weeks. “The missteps regularly committed by von der Leyen – from Pfizergate to his trip to Israel – take on all the more importance the closer we get to the elections, believes Alberto Alemanno, professor of law at the HEC Paris business school. They take the form of a more structural problem.”

Two other politicians point out that the congress of the European People’s Party (EPP), which was held in March in Bucharest, marked a turning point in terms of image for Ursula von der Leyen. At the beginning of March, European conservatives gathered in the Romanian capital to formally support the former German defense minister to stand down.

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