Ursula von der Leyen announced her re-election bid for European Commission presidency

Ursula von der Leyen, the current President of the European Commission, has announced her desire to run for a second term. She called it a “conscious and balanced decision.”

Ursula von der Leyen stated that if the Congress of the European People’s Party (ΈΡΡ) nominates her as the main candidate for the European Commission President in March, she “intends to take on this role.”

Ursula von der Leyen added that she was grateful to the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union party for offering her candidacy. In particular, to CDU leader Friedrich Merz, with whom von der Leyen spoke on February 18–19. According to von der Leyen, she received assurances of full support.

“Over the past 5 years, we have done more together than we could have ever imagined. Over these 5 years, not only my sacrifice for Europe has grown, but also my understanding of how much this Europe can do for people”.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

She noted that Europe had withstood the coronavirus pandemic and did not slip into recession. When Russia launched a full-scale war on Ukraine, and the largest war since 1945 began in Europe’s largest country, Europe immediately stepped in and took Ukraine’s side from day one, the current EC President recalled.

“And if you remember the first days, Putin tried to bring us to our knees. He tried to blackmail us with Russian oil and gas. But we did not give up. And we have a long way to go”.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

How is the President of the European Commission elected?

The President of the European Commission is elected for a five-year term in June. The elected president takes office five months after the European Parliament elections.

The candidate from the party that receives the most votes in the European elections is set to get the position of President of the European Commission.

Von der Leyen’s position on Ukraine and the Russian war

The President of the European Commission has visited Ukraine many times since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion. Ursula von der Leyen has also stated that “the EU will be able to fulfill its promise to supply one million munitions to Ukraine within 12 months.”.

During the recent debate in the European Parliament, von der Leyen also made many statements in support of Ukraine. In particular, she said that “Europe will be on Ukraine’s side every day of the war and every day afterwards”.

She noted that Kyiv is making significant reforms on its way to the EU, and this progress is happening “not only because of Europe’s requirements but also because of the deep desire of Ukrainians.”

The President of the European Commission said that Putin’s strategic defeat is that Kyiv did not fall but rather withstood and returned most of the territory occupied by Russia. In addition, the EU remained united, and NATO became stronger.

Hungary’s reaction

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó criticized Ursula von der Leyen after she announced her re-election bid for the EC presidency. Szijjártó believes that the overall state of the European Union has deteriorated since von der Leyen took over the European Commission in 2019.

“It would be fair to say that during the tenure of the current president of the European Commission, the competitiveness of the European Union has deteriorated sharply, and the European security situation has also deteriorated sharply,” the Hungarian minister said.

Hungary is known for its pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian stance in the European Union.

On February 1, EU leaders agreed to allocate 50 billion euros to help Ukraine, having overcome Hungary’s veto. This is financial assistance to Ukraine from the EU budget. This includes 17 billion in direct aid and 33 billion in loans, which Ukraine is expected to receive over the next four years.

In addition, Ursula von der Leyen advocates the adoption of more sanctions against Russia.

In a speech to the Ukrainian parliament on November 4, 2023, she emphasized that “Europe learns a lot from Ukraine, which does not need to learn how to be Europeans,” because, as the President of the European Commission noted, “Ukrainians are already Europeans.”

“I am confident that you can achieve your ambitious goals and open the process of negotiations on joining the EU this year. Europe wants to invest in you. That is why we are launching a plan that will provide 50 billion euros for you. This is more than any country has received since the Marshall Plan”.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

If Ursula von der Leyen is re-elected, a strong and lasting EU’s support for Ukraine and stance on long-term sanctions against Russia will likely be maintained.

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