Sunday, 21 July, 2019

European Union parliament to vote on von der Leyen next week

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter
Deanna Wagner | 13 July, 2019, 22:28

The nominee to become the next EU commission chief assured the Remainer MEPs in the Greens-European Free Alliance bloc that "the door is open, because we want you in" in the event of revoking Article 50 at the last minute.

The conservative German defence minister has to win over European Union deputies who are annoyed that national leaders opted to nominate her rather than one of the lead candidates from the biggest political groupings in the new parliament after the election last May.

In her first public comments about Brexit since securing the nomination, she told British MEPs that she still hoped the United Kingdom would reverse course, but urged Britain to provide clarity for the future: "it is in our interests to have you sort things out".

"I welcome the commitments, given by Mrs Von der Leyen, to complete and strengthen the Capital Markets Union, but for Irish consumers, now facing sky-high interest rates and spiralling insurance premiums, this is a very theoretical response", he said.

MEPs will cast their ballots next week in a secret vote, meaning more MEPs could feel inclined to break party political lines, and reject von der Leyen.

Prime Minister Antti Rinne of Finland, which just took over the rotating presidency of the European Council, called for von der Leyen's quick approval. Her promises to fight climate change were not enough for Green deputies who vowed to vote against her.

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The liberals of Renew Europe are pushing for von der Leyen's approval - although they expect further commitment from her next week on the rule of law, transnational lists and getting the Danish liberal commissioner Margrethe Vestager a vice-president position in the commission.

She needs at least 376 votes in the 751-member assembly.

She also acknowledged the "bumpy start" she had gotten off to with the liberals, referencing the widespread disapproval of her surprise nomination over the candidates who had been announced before the European Parliament elections in May.

While she is expected to be backed by the major political groups in the European Parliament, there has been stinging criticism of the way she was put forward as a candidate. And for that we will have to be more ambitious with our climate goals for 2030. "We absolutely know how crucial this non-existing of a border for you is, and therefore having the backstop in the Brexit deal is", she said in response to a question from an Irish MEP.

The group's acting president, Martin Schirdewan, said: "We realise she does not have a vision that is based on social justice and on human rights". But she needs more votes and some could come from the Socialists, the second largest grouping in the parliament.