Von der Leyen has been nominated for another term in the top EU job

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EU leaders have put forward Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as the head of the European Commission during a summit held in Brussels. Alongside her nomination, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has been selected as the EU’s next foreign affairs chief, while former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa is slated to become the next chairman of EU summits. All three nominees hail from centrist, pro-EU factions within the European political spectrum. The nominations now await approval from the European Parliament, scheduled for next month.

Ursula von der Leyen, representing Germany’s center-right, António Costa, a socialist, and Kaja Kallas, a liberal, emerged as the consensus choices despite resistance from Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni. Meloni expressed discontent ahead of the summit, arguing that the nominations overlooked the successes of hard-right parties, including her own, in recent European Parliament elections. She abstained from voting on von der Leyen’s nomination and voted against Costa and Kallas. Securing approval from the European Parliament poses a potential challenge.

I would like to sincerely thank the leaders who endorsed my nomination for a second term as President of the European Commission, said Ursula von der Leyen following the summit. Kaja Kallas expressed her gratitude for the Council’s support, emphasizing the significant responsibility associated with her new role. My objective is to foster European unity and safeguard European interests, she affirmed. António Costa praised both Kallas and von der Leyen, foreseeing fruitful collaboration to serve Europe and its citizens.

“Europe and the world are confronting challenging times,” Costa acknowledged upon his nomination. “However, the European Union has demonstrated resilience in the past by finding strength in unity. My foremost priority upon assuming office in December will be to advance the strategic agenda approved by the European Council today.” Costa, who resigned as Portugal’s prime minister last year, will succeed Belgium’s former prime minister, Charles Michel, in his new role. Kaja Kallas will take over from Spain’s Josep Borrell as the EU’s foreign affairs chief.

Giorgia Meloni, who leads the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) bloc in the European Parliament, notably was excluded from discussions on the nominations despite the ECR becoming the third-largest group in the parliament after the European elections. Addressing the Italian parliament, Meloni expressed frustration, asserting that European voters had called for a new direction distinct from the EU’s established path.

Without directly naming individuals, she criticized those who she claimed doubted citizens’ maturity to make decisions and promoted oligarchy as the preferred form of democracy. The complex dynamics within the EU underscore the challenges and expectations facing the bloc’s leadership as they navigate diverse political interests and seek to forge consensus on critical issues impacting Europe and beyond.

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