The Latest: EU nominee seeks support, vows to listen
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on key appointments at the European Union (all times local):
Ursula von der Leyen is promising to “listen a lot” and cooperate closely with the European Parliament as she tries to drum up support for her nomination to lead the European Union’s executive commission.
The German defense minister traveled to the Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Wednesday, a day after her surprise nomination to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president.
The leaders of EU countries put her forward as a candidate. The nomination needs majority approval in the EU legislature, which at present is uncertain.
Von der Leyen said she was “overwhelmed and I very feel honored to be nominated.”
She added: “I intend to listen a lot so that, within the next fortnight, I’m able to develop ... a vision for the next five years for Europe, for the commission, that is based on an intensive cooperation between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council.”
The European Council is the body that brings together the 28 EU countries’ leaders.
The nomination of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen to lead the European Union’s executive Commission has created new strife in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition at home.
Von der Leyen, a member of Merkel’s center-right party, emerged Tuesday as the surprise candidate for one of the main jobs at the EU. She is opposed by Merkel’s center-left coalition partners, the Social Democrats, on the grounds that she wasn’t one of the “lead candidates” who ran in the European Parliament elections in May.
The party’s current leadership didn’t say what consequences the nomination might have but a former leader, Sigmar Gabriel, argued it could be grounds to leave the cantankerous coalition.
The general secretary of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, Paul Ziemiak, has criticized the Social Democrats’ stance, saying it wasn’t good for the coalition’s image that Merkel was the only EU leader who had to abstain in the vote on a German candidate. He noted that Merkel had previously tried unsuccessfully to get center-left candidate Frans Timmermans nominated.
David-Maria Sassoli, an Italian member of the Socialists & Democrats bloc, has been elected as the next president of the European parliament after two rounds of voting in the Strasbourg-based legislature.
In the second round Sassoli received 345 votes, well over the absolute majority required from the 667 eligible votes.
Conservative Jan Zahradil from the Czech Republic got 160 votes, while the German Greens leader Ska Keller received 119 and the Spanish left-wing candidate Sira Rego trailed with 43.
Appointing a new parliamentary president completes the bloc’s drawn-out appointment process for its top jobs.
David-Maria Sassoli, an Italian member of the Socialists & Democrats bloc at the European Parliament, fell just short of an absolute majority in the first round of voting to become the next president of the legislature.
In a vote among legislators, Sassoli received 325 votes, 7 shy of an absolute majority. Conservative Jan Zahradil of the Czech Republic got 162 votes, while German Greens leader Ska Keller received 133 and the Spanish left-wing candidate Sira Rego won the support of just 42.
All four will contest a second round later Wednesday, and Sassoli remains a hot favorite to win.
Appointing a new parliamentary president will complete the bloc’s drawn-out appointment process for its top jobs.
European Union legislators are gearing up to elect their parliamentary leader — a decision that will complete the bloc’s drawn-out appointment process for its top jobs.
Legislators were preparing for a session that could last until late Wednesday, with the Socialists & Democrats candidate David-Maria Sassoli of Italy favorite to lead the Strasbourg-based European Parliament for the next 2-1/2 years. His main challenger is expected to be Germany’s Ska Keller, leader of the Greens.
On Tuesday, EU leaders nominated Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen to become president of the executive Commission. Belgium’s Charles Michel was appointed to lead the European Council, which brings together the member states. And Frenchwoman Christine Lagarde was tapped to be president of the European Central Bank and Spain’s Josep Borrell the bloc’s foreign policy chief.