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Germany and a woman take the European Commission presidency

Wednesday, July 3rd 2019 - 16:11 UTC
Full article
If successful - her nomination requires parliamentary approval - Mrs. von der Leyen would be the first woman to take on the Commission presidency If successful - her nomination requires parliamentary approval - Mrs. von der Leyen would be the first woman to take on the Commission presidency
A close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, she has been a member of Mrs Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) since 2005. A close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, she has been a member of Mrs Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) since 2005.
Now 60, Mrs von der Leyen is the mother of seven children, highly unusual in a country where the average birthrate is 1.59 children per woman. Now 60, Mrs von der Leyen is the mother of seven children, highly unusual in a country where the average birthrate is 1.59 children per woman.

Ursula von der Leyen's name is unlikely to have cropped up in early conversations as European leaders wrangled over the best candidate to replace Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. But after proposed compromise deals collapsed, Germany's defiance minister and close ally of Angela Merkel has emerged from the shadows as their nominee for the top job.

If successful - her nomination requires parliamentary approval - Mrs. von der Leyen would be the first woman to take on the Commission presidency, with responsibilities including proposing new EU laws, enforcing the bloc's rules and handling trade deals.

Born in Brussels, her family moved to Germany when she was 13. She studied economics at London's LSE and medicine in Hanover before going into politics.

A close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, she has been a member of Mrs Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) since 2005.

Now 60, Mrs. von der Leyen is the mother of seven children, highly unusual in a country where the average birthrate is 1.59 children per woman.

She is seen as a staunch integrationist, backing closer military co-operation in the EU and highlighting earlier this year the “potential Europe has to unify and to promote peace”.

Her appointment as German defense minister in 2013 was unexpected and followed three months of coalition talks between the CDU and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

From that moment, she quickly grew in popularity among the German public. As defense minister in the EU's most industrialized and populous country, she has argued for Germany to boost its military involvement in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato).

However, her tenure in the defiance post has not been without its failures. In recent years, a litany of stories have exposed inadequacies in Germany's armed forces, from inoperable submarines and aircraft to shortages of personnel

A report published last year highlighted the shortfalls saying they were “dramatically” hindering Germany's readiness for combat. It said that no submarines or large transport planes were available for deployment at the end of 2017.

Last week, two German air force jets were involved in a mid-air collision during a military exercise over north-eastern Germany.

While her appointment was initially seen as a fresh start for a German ministry beset by problems, Mrs. von der Leyen was last year questioned as part of an investigation into spending irregularities.

Her defense department was accused of awarding questionable private contracts to consultants that were said to be worth millions of Euros. She later admitted that a number of errors were made in allocating contracts and that new measures were being implemented to prevent it happening again.

Categories: Politics, International.

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