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Von der Leyen fights for her political survival in a lively debate

Von der Leyen fights for her political survival in a lively debate

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen fought for her political survival in the EU election debate on Monday. In the live broadcast on YouTube, von der Leyen appeared alongside seven rival candidates from various EU factions, many of whom want to challenge her for the top job in the European Commission after the June elections.

Meanwhile, von der Leyen is struggling amid various controversies, some of which in recent weeks have prompted former allies to turn against her in an attempt to retain her position. In intense questioning, von der Leyen defended the European Commission's position on issues such as trade agreements with Ukraine, the situation in Russia and the internet giant TikTok. “We have to be careful that Putin does not wipe Ukraine off the map,” she said during the April 29 debate.

Von der Leyen refused to give in on the issue of support for Ukrainian farmers. The European Union has allowed Ukraine to export about 122 million tons of goods since May 2022. “We must [den ukrainischen Landwirten] “To help, this is what we did with Solidarity Corridors,” she said.

Von der Leyen appeared more willing to move on other issues, although there are many signs that the Commission President is seeking a political shift to the right. The European Commission president once again hinted at possible cooperation between her European People's Party and the European Conservatives and Reformists, sparking anger among some of the more left-leaning candidates. The largest group in the Eastern European region is the ultra-conservative Polish Law and Justice Party, which has so far faced strong opposition from the EU Commission.

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The Green Party candidate, Eckhout von der Leyen, asked at one point in the debate: “Where do you stand on the European Council for Reform?” “It depends on the composition of parliament and who belongs to the faction,” von der Leyen replied.

Von der Leyen's remark about such a future political alliance was seen as a political move to save her career. In order to be re-elected as President of the European Commission after the June elections, the current head of government needs the approval of her European People's Party and the European Parliament.

It is uncertain whether either of these factions will eventually give it the green light, as both factions see a clear departure from von der Leyen's policies and a move to the right. Amid this “drift,” von der Leyen was keen to demonstrate her conservative credentials on various issues and flirt with the idea of ​​forming alliances with more conservative politicians.

This angered many liberal and socialist politicians, who accused the EU leader of abandoning her European principles for political gain. “Either you negotiate with the far right because you need it, or you can say very clearly that an agreement is not possible because they do not respect fundamental rights,” said Nicolas Schmidt, the leading candidate for the Party of European Socialists. ).

The European Greens also exploited von der Leyen's (supposed) right-wing bias, claiming that “a vote for the Christian Democrats and centre-right parties threatens the return of the far right to power in Europe.”

It is unclear whether von der Leyen's attempt to appease the right will succeed as opposition to her reappointment grows. An EKR representative said recently Brussels signalAnd that von der Leyen is “finished” and will be replaced by another EPP candidate.

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This post is appeared first on Brussels Signal.

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