Ursula von der Leyen elected President of the European Commission: what lies ahead for Europe?

Ursula von der Leyen addresses the Members of the European Parliament during her application speech. Von der Leyen applies to be the new President of the European Commission,

Ursula von der Leyen addresses the Members of the European Parliament during her application speech. Von der Leyen applies to be the new President of the European Commission,, © Michael Kappeler/dpa

16.07.2019 - Article

For the first time in its history, the European Parliament has elected a woman to head the Commission. What are her most important goals and what will the next steps be?

The European Parliament has elected Ursula von der Leyen as the new President of the European Commission. In her speech before the vote, von der Leyen emphasised that she wanted to defend the unity of Europe against attempts to divide it as well as global challenges. She announced that she would put forward a “Green Deal for Europe” in her first 100 days in office and also wants to propose a new pact on migration and asylum. Von der Leyen expressed a strong commitment to the rule of law and wants to improve young people’s educational opportunities. She also advocated greater gender equality and stronger participation on the part of European citizens. Von der Leyen pledged that the Commission would take up legislative initiatives of the European Parliament with its own proposals. The Political Guidelines prepared and published by Ursula von der Leyen as well as her opening statement prior to the election in the European Parliament can be found here.

Maas: working together for a united and strong EU

Immediately after the election, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the following:

I congratulate Ursula von der Leyen on her election by the European Parliament. In her speech, she called for a united and strong EU on which we now want to work together. It was important that she made a clear commitment today to the rule of law and to a social and sovereign Europe based on the principle of solidarity. This is the right agenda for the EU, and it will be judged on that.

The world will not wait for Europe. It is therefore essential that we look to the future and further develop the new Commission’s programme swiftly.

What happens now?

The President of the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the other members of the Commission will, as a college, submit themselves to a vote of approval by the European Parliament. Before giving its assent, the European Parliament will hold hearings of the candidates. These are scheduled to begin at a plenary session from 16 to 19 September. The vote of approval is currently scheduled for the plenary session in October (21 to 24 October).

As a final step, the President of the Commission and the Commission as a whole will be appointed by the European Council with a reinforced qualified majority. This is expected to take place at the European Council in October.


Top of page