Von der Leyen to announce bid for 2nd EU term: German party official

BRUSSELS – European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen is expected to announce her bid for a second term on Feb 19, a member of her German party in the European Parliament said.

“I expect that Ursula von der Leyen will declare her willingness to run for the office of commission president again” when the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) holds meetings in Berlin on Monday, EU lawmaker Daniel Caspary told AFP on Tuesday.

“That would be a good sign for Europe,” said Caspary, who chairs the European Parliament’s delegation of lawmakers from the CDU and its allied Christian Social Union party.

Von der Leyen, 65, has not spoken publicly about whether she intends to try for a second mandate.

She is widely expected to win the backing of most EU member countries if she does seek to extend her time at the commission’s helm.

Since becoming commission president in 2019, von der Leyen, a former German defence minister, has effectively become the face of the European Union.

She has led the bloc’s executive body as it confronted challenges including Brexit, the Covid pandemic and Russia’s invasion of the EU’s pro-Western neighbour Ukraine.

Caspary said the CDU would “wholeheartedly” support von der Leyen for a new term.

The conservative European People’s Party group in the European Parliament, to which the CDU/CDU delegation belongs, would announce her as its Europe-wide lead candidate for the post in Bucharest on 6-7 March, Caspary said, confirming what EPP leader Manfred Weber has already said.

A second von der Leyen commission would likely find itself with a changed political landscape.

Voter surveys suggest extreme-right, anti-immigrant parties across Europe will grab more seats in European Parliament elections on June 6-9, pushing the legislature to the right.

That could slow progress towards European Union green transition that von der Leyen had made a cornerstone of her first term. It could also grow the cohort of European lawmakers sympathetic to Donald Trump should he regain the White House.

Caspary said he expected von der Leyen’s priorities over a second term would shift, with more concessions to Europe’s farmers, though her support for Ukraine and for sanctions against Russia were likely to remain. AFP

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