Ursula Von Der Leyen faces MEPs’ skepticism during severe hearings at the European Parliament
Ursula von der Leyen’s drive to get the European Parliament behind her nomination for the top job in Brussels hit a wall of skepticism on Wednesday, including calls to delay her ratification vote, currently scheduled for next week. Von der Leyen was taking questions from European Parliamentarians in Brussels on Wednesday after her nomination to lead the European Commission was announced last week.
In her first public comments about Brexit since securing the nomination, Ursula Von Der Leyen told British MEPs that she still hoped the UK would reverse course, but urged Britain to provide clarity for the future: “it is in our interests to have you sort things out.”
“I think the backstop is of utmost importance. We absolutely know how crucial this non-existing of a border for you is, and therefore having the backstop in the Brexit deal is,” said von der Leyen, referring to the ‘backstop’ agreement aiming to protect the open Irish border which a future British prime minister is liable to try to change.
DW reports that the meetings with centrist and left-leaning blocs in the European Parliament were the first part of von der Leyen’s attempt to get the necessary majority for her ascension.
“Speaking a mix of German, English, and French, von der Leyen spoke about climate change, the rule of law, and allowing EU citizens to have more of a say in policy”, the report says.
The German defense minister and compromise candidate faces an uphill battle, as several members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voiced disapproval when EU leaders decided to ditch the “lead candidate” nomination process — in only the second instance of trying to use it — when European leaders couldn’t agree on any of the candidates put forward by the party groups.