With Ursula von der Leyen’s election by the European Parliament to the presidency of the European Commission, Portugal’s government has suggested this is a moment for ‘rejoicing’.
Far from the initial ‘disappointment’ voiced by prime minister António Costa over the choices for Europe’s new leaders (click here), von der Leyen is now being hailed as a politician whose commitments “all go in the right direction”.
Said foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva yesterday (Tuesday) the new EC president is guided by the “defense of the rule of law, defense of the completion of Economic and Monetary Union, defense of the creation of the budgetary instrument for competitiveness and convergence and defense of the attention that all Europe must provide for the energy transition and decarbonisation of our economy”.
Von der Leyen’s commitments as a candidate “indicate that she will lead a commission in the sense” that Portugal has always advocated: “greater European integration, Europe’s greater capacity to respond to citizens’ needs and ensure the prosperity of our economies, ensure convergence economic and social development within the European Union, to defend the rule of law and the role of Europe in the great agendas of today’s world”.
Mother-of-seven von der Leyen is the first woman to occupy the presidency, and is generally seen as ‘the compromise candidate’.
“By no means perfect but better than the alternative”, explains media group ForeignPolicy, adding that critics “worry that her stance on issues like eurozone reform might be too heavily influenced by German preference rather than what is good for the EU”.
But for now at least Portugal is not troubling the waters, despite the fact that von der Leyen really only ‘scraped’ through the elections process with 383 votes out of a possible total of 733. It’s a tally far short of that of her predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker who was elected by 420 votes.