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Insider report: Leyen facing the end

Source: TKP.at, Thomas Oysmüller, 17 April 2024

It is highly uncertain that von der Leyen will head the EU Commission for another five years. Almost only the traffic lights are still behind her.

It came as quite a surprise when EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (she is under investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office) announced that she wanted to hold the post of EU President for another term. She had originally been considered for the NATO leadership, but Olaf Scholz is said to have prevented this (TKP reported). Her group, the European People’s Party (EPP), is expected to win the EU elections in June, but it is far from certain that Leyen will actually lead the Commission for another five years. On the contrary.

The end of Leyen?

Politico, the most important magazine covering Brussels’ political cosmos, has some explosive news to report. Namely, that Leyen is facing the end of her political career for several reasons. The report states: “Two months before the EU elections in June, European diplomats and officials in Brussels are warning that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is not a shoo-in for another five-year term at the head of the EU executive.”

The title of the story is even clearer: “Don’t assume von der Leyen will be back.”

It is, an EU official told the US-funded magazine, issue number one: “A big part of it is the arrogance of power,” the EU official continued. “She mistakenly believed she could get away with anything. That’s why minor mistakes are now being used against her.”

It is not only the “Leyen-Pfizer conspiracy” that has become a judicial case and is putting the Commission President under increasing pressure. The public prosecutor is now investigating Leyen personally – TKP has reported.

France has not yet decided to support Leyen, according to reports from within the Commission. “The French don’t want Ursula to walk down a red carpet at the European Council in June and be showered with flowers,” said another EU diplomat. “The idea of a German Commission President who can do whatever she wants during a second term is a nightmare for them.”

The EPP grandees themselves also remain highly uncertain as to whether EU citizens can be expected to put up with another five years of Leyen. The “prospect of a coup” would grow, they say:

“Von der Leyen’s periodic missteps, from Pfizergate to her trip to Israel, take on a new meaning the closer we get to the election,” said Alberto Alemanno, professor of law at HEC Business School in Paris. (…) Two other officials pointed to the party congress in Bucharest in March as a crucial turning point in the perception of von der Leyen. European conservatives met there in early March to officially endorse the former German defence minister as the face of their EU election campaign. But some, such as French conservative heavyweight Michel Barnier, refused to back her.(…) Von der Leyen also faced an internal rebellion from four of her top commissioners after she awarded a lucrative envoy post to European law expert Markus Pieper, who belongs to her German conservative party.

Internally, she only has a small circle of loyal supporters. And: only Germany is still behind her. The traffic light has “no other choice” than Leyen. Because better a German, even if from the “wrong” party, than someone else.

EU upheaval

It is also unlikely that Leyen will have the EU Parliament behind her again after the election. in 2019, a coalition of the “pro-EU parties” (Social Democrats, EPP, Liberals) was able to get her into office – even though she was not even nominated. With a narrow majority of 383 votes (374 were needed). However, the groups critical of the EU will certainly be able to make gains – and they are generally also critics of Leyen.

But even if Leyen does end up on the political merry-go-round, not much is likely to change. This can already be seen from the “replacement candidates” that are already circulating. The report concludes like this:

‘In the meantime, her critics have started to bring other names into play for the President of the European Commission. Some come from her own party, as it will hold the majority of seats in the European Parliament, such as the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola or the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

“We will enter the discussion for the top job with von der Leyen as EU Commission president,” said the first EU official, who said that von der Leyen believed she could prevail. “Whether she will still be there in the end is another question.”

Perhaps the report is the reason why Viktor Orban, in one of his typically populist videos, called on Leyen to resign on Monday.

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