Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel marked the inauguration of their terms Sunday by joining the presidents of the European Parliament and European Central Bank for a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty, Politico reports.
“There could be no better day to begin the work,” said von der Leyen, the first woman to serve as European Commission president, the EU’s top executive job. “We are the guardians of the Treaties.”
POLITICO “Four presidents together,” European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, a former French finance minister and managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said. “Two men and two women.” It was indeed a historic display of gender symmetry for a bloc that aspires to be the global pacesetter in equality but until now has found such balance missing from its own leadership ranks. All four of the previous presidents were men: Jean-Claude Juncker; Donald Tusk; Antonio Tajani; and Mario Draghi.
POLITICO said that this was also a highly choreographed show of unity as the new EU leaders prepare to start directing the bloc’s response to its multiple ongoing challenges ranging from Brexit to climate change. “We meet here at the House of European History because it is the right place to relaunch the European project, a project that will take the initiative to modernize European democracy, making it more efficient, and develop new European policies,” European Parliament President David Sassoli said in opening the event.
Sassoli noted it was a “fortunate coincidence” that von der Leyen and Michel’s terms began on the same day as the anniversary of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, which amended the founding laws of the EU.