Ursula von der Leyen

Last updated

Heiko von der Leyen
(m. 1986)
Ursula von der Leyen
Official Portrait of Ursula von der Leyen (cropped 3).jpg
Official portrait, 2020
President of the European Commission
Assumed office
1 December 2019
Alma mater University of Göttingen
University of Münster
London School of Economics
Hannover Medical School (MD, MPH)
  • Politician
  • Physician
  • Research fellow
Signature Ursula von der Leyen signature.svg
Website Official website

Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen (German: [ˈʊʁzulaˈɡɛʁtʁuːtfɔndɛɐ̯ˈlaɪən] ; née  Albrecht; born 8 October 1958) is a German physician and politician serving as the 13th president of the European Commission since 2019. She served in the German federal government between 2005 and 2019, holding successive positions in Angela Merkel's cabinet, most recently as federal minister of defence. Von der Leyen is a member of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its EU affiliated group, the European People's Party (EPP).


Ursula von der Leyen was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium, to German parents. Her father, Ernst Albrecht, was one of the first European civil servants. She was brought up bilingually in German and French, and moved to Germany in 1971 when her father became involved in German politics. She graduated as a physician in Hanover in 1987. After marrying fellow physician Heiko von der Leyen, she lived for four years in the United States with her family in the 1990s. After returning to Germany she became involved in local politics in the Hanover region in the late 1990s, and she served as a cabinet minister in the state government of Lower Saxony from 2003 to 2005.

In 2005, she joined the federal cabinet, first as minister of family affairs and youth from 2005 to 2009, then as minister of labour and social affairs from 2009 to 2013, and finally as minister of defence from 2013 to 2019, the first woman to serve as German defence minister. [1] When she left office she was the only minister to have served continuously in Merkel's cabinet since Merkel became chancellor. She served as a deputy leader of the CDU from 2010 to 2019, and was regarded as a leading contender to succeed Merkel as chancellor of Germany and as the favourite to become secretary general of NATO after Jens Stoltenberg. British defence secretary Michael Fallon described her in 2019 as "a star presence" in the NATO community and "the doyenne of NATO ministers for over five years." [2] In 2023, she was again regarded as the favourite to take the role. [3]

On 2 July 2019, von der Leyen was proposed by the European Council as the candidate for president of the European Commission. [4] [5] She was then elected by the European Parliament on 16 July; [6] [lower-alpha 1] she took office on 1 December, becoming the first woman to hold the office. In November 2022 von der Leyen announced that her Commission would work to establish an International Criminal Tribunal for the Russian Federation. [8] She was named the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2022 and 2023. [9] [10]

Family and early life

Von der Leyen was born in 1958 in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium, where she lived until she was 13 years old. In the family, she has been known since childhood as Röschen, a diminutive of Rose. [11] Her father Ernst Albrecht worked as one of the first European civil servants from the establishment of the European Commission in 1958, first as chef de cabinet to the European commissioner for competition Hans von der Groeben in the Hallstein Commission, and then as director-general of the Directorate-General for Competition from 1967 to 1970. She attended the European School, Brussels I until the age of 13. [12]

In 1971, she relocated to Sehnde in the Hanover region after her father had become CEO of the food company Bahlsen and involved in state politics in Lower Saxony. [13] Her father served as Minister President of Lower Saxony (state prime minister) from 1976 to 1990, being re-elected in state parliament elections in 1978, 1982 and 1986. [14] In 1980 he ran for the CDU nomination for the German chancellorship, backed by CDU chairman Helmut Kohl, but narrowly missed the candidacy to fellow conservative Franz Josef Strauß (who then lost the general election to the sitting chancellor Helmut Schmidt); in the 1990 state elections Ernst Albrecht lost his office to Gerhard Schröder, who later became German chancellor.

Most of her ancestors were from the former states of Hanover and Bremen in today's northwestern Germany; she has one American great-grandmother of primarily British descent, with more distant French and Italian ancestors, and some ancestors from what is now Estonia, then part of former Russian Empire. The Albrecht family was among the hübsche ("courtly" or "genteel") families of the Electorate and Kingdom of Hanover—a state that was in a personal union with the United Kingdom—and her ancestors had been doctors, jurists and civil servants since the 17th century. Her great-great-grandfather George Alexander Albrecht moved to Bremen in the 19th century, where he became a wealthy cotton merchant, part of the Hanseatic elite and the Austro-Hungarian Consul from 1895. He married Baroness Louise Dorothea Betty von Knoop (1844–1889), a daughter of Baron Johann Ludwig von Knoop, one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the 19th century Russian Empire. [15] [ better source needed ]

Von der Leyen's father's grandparents were the cotton merchant Carl Albrecht (1875–1952) and Mary Ladson Robertson (1883–1960), an American who descended from a planter family in Charleston, South Carolina. Her American ancestors played a significant role in the British colonisation of the Americas, and she descends from many of the first English settlers of Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Barbados, and from numerous colonial governors. Among her ancestors were Carolina governors John Yeamans, James Moore, Robert Gibbes, Thomas Smith and Joseph Blake, Pennsylvania deputy governor Samuel Carpenter, and the American revolutionary and lieutenant governor of South Carolina James Ladson. [16] [17] [18] The Ladson family were large plantation owners and her ancestor James H. Ladson owned over 200 slaves by the time slavery in the United States was abolished; her relatives and ancestors were among the wealthiest in British North America in the 18th century, and she descends from one of the largest slave traders in the Thirteen Colonies, Joseph Wragg. Carl and Mary were the parents of Ursula von der Leyen's grandfather, the psychologist Carl Albrecht, who was known for developing a new method of meditation and for his research on mystical consciousness. [19] She is the niece of the conductor George Alexander Albrecht and a first cousin of the chief conductor of the Dutch National Opera Marc Albrecht. [20] Contrary to persistent internet rumours, the Albrecht family is not related to the owners of the supermarket chain Aldi.

Von der Leyen's family coat of arms Coat of arms of the von der Leyen family.svg
Von der Leyen's family coat of arms

In 1986, she married physician Heiko von der Leyen, a member of the von der Leyen family that made a fortune as silk merchants and was ennobled in 1786; her husband became a professor of medicine and the CEO of a medical engineering company. She met him at a university choir in Göttingen. [21] They have seven children, born between 1987 and 1999. [22] Von der Leyen is Lutheran. [23] [24]

Ursula von der Leyen is a native speaker of German and French, and speaks English fluently, having lived for a combined five years in the United Kingdom and the United States. [25] She lives with her family on a farm in Burgdorf near Hanover where they keep horses. [26] She is a keen equestrian and has been involved in competitive horseriding. [27]

Education and professional career

She moved to the Hanover Region in 1971 when her father entered politics to become minister-president of the state of Lower Saxony in 1976. In 1977, she started studying economics at the University of Göttingen. At the height of the fear of communist terrorism in West Germany, she fled to London in 1978 after her family was told that the Red Army Faction (RAF) was planning to kidnap her due to her being the daughter of a prominent politician. She spent more than a year in hiding in London, where she lived with protection from Scotland Yard under the name Rose Ladson to avoid detection and enrolled at the London School of Economics. [28] [29] [30] [31] A German diminutive of Rose, Röschen, had been her nickname since childhood, [32] while Ladson was the name of her American great-grandmother's family, originally from Northamptonshire. She said that she "lived more than she studied", [33] and that London was "the epitome of modernity: freedom, the joy of life, trying everything" which "gave me an inner freedom that I have kept till today". [29] She returned to Germany in 1979 but lived with a security detail at her side for several years. [34]

In 1980, she switched to studying medicine and enrolled at the Hannover Medical School, where she graduated in 1987 and acquired her medical licence, specialising in women's health. [35] From 1988 to 1992, she worked as an assistant physician at the Women's Clinic of the Hannover Medical School. Upon completing her doctoral studies, she defended the thesis [36] and graduated as a Doctor of Medicine in 1991. Following the birth of twins, she was a housewife in Stanford, California, from 1992 to 1996, while her husband was a faculty member of Stanford University, returning to Germany in 1996. [37]

From 1998 to 2002, she taught at the Department of Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health System Research at the Hannover Medical School.[ citation needed ] In 2001 she earned a Master of Public Health degree at the institution. [38] [39] [40]

Plagiarism accusations

In 2015, researchers collaborating at the VroniPlag Wiki reviewed von der Leyen's 1991 doctoral thesis and alleged that 43.5% of the thesis pages contained plagiarism, and in 23 cases citations were used that did not verify claims for which they were given. [41] [42] Multiple notable German academics such as Gerhard Dannemann  [ de ] and Volker Rieble  [ de ] publicly accused von der Leyen of intended plagiarism. [43] The Hannover Medical School conducted an investigation and concluded in March 2016 that while the thesis contains plagiarism, no intention to deceive could be proven. [44] [45]

The university decided not to revoke von der Leyen's medical degree. [44] Critics questioned the independence of the commission that reviewed the thesis as von der Leyen personally knew its director from joint work for an alumni association. [45] Various media outlets also criticised that the decision was nontransparent, not according to established rules, and failed to secure high academic standards. [45] [46] [47]

Early political career

Ursula von der Leyen joined the CDU in 1990, and became active in local politics in Lower Saxony in 1996, shortly after she had returned to Germany after living in California. She was a member of the committee on social policy of CDU in Lower Saxony from 1996, and also became active in the association of medical doctors in the CDU party. [48]

In the Niedersachsen Landtag, 2003–2005

Ursula von der Leyen was elected to the Parliament of Lower Saxony in the 2003 state election for Lehrte, the same constituency then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder represented from 1986 to 1998. From 2003 to 2005 she was a minister in the state government of Lower Saxony, serving in the cabinet of Christian Wulff, with responsibility for social affairs, women, family, and health. [49]

In 2003, von der Leyen was part of a group assigned by the then–opposition leader and CDU chairwoman Angela Merkel to draft alternative proposals for social welfare reform in response to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's "Agenda 2010". The so-called Herzog Commission, named after its chairman, the former German President Roman Herzog, recommended a comprehensive package of reform proposals including, among other things, decoupling health and nursing care premiums from people's earnings and levying a monthly lump sum across the board instead. [50]

2005 campaign poster featuring von der Leyen Ursula von der Leyen CDU 2005.jpg
2005 campaign poster featuring von der Leyen

Ahead of the 2005 federal elections, Angela Merkel chose Ursula von der Leyen to cover the family and social security portfolio in her shadow cabinet. [51] [52] In the negotiations to form a government following the election, von der Leyen led the CDU/CSU delegation in the working group on families; her co-chair from the SPD was Renate Schmidt. [53]

In the Bundestag, 2005–2019

Minister of Family Affairs and Youth, 2005–2009

In 2005, Ursula von der Leyen was appointed Federal Minister of Family Affairs and Youth in the cabinet of Angela Merkel. On the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, von der Leyen participated in the first joint cabinet meeting of the governments of Germany and Israel in Jerusalem in March 2008. [54]

Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, 2009–2013

At the federal election of 2009, von der Leyen was elected to the Bundestag, Germany's Parliament, representing the 42nd electoral district of Hanover, alongside Edelgard Bulmahn of the Social Democrats. In the negotiations to form a coalition government following the elections, she led the CDU/CSU delegation in the working group on health policy; her co-chair from the FDP was Philipp Rösler. She was reappointed as family minister, [55] but on 30 November 2009 succeeded Franz Josef Jung as Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. [56]

Ursula von der Leyen at a horse show in Hagen in Osnabruck, Germany, in 2013 13-04-19-Horses-and-Dreams-2013 (110 von 114).jpg
Ursula von der Leyen at a horse show in Hagen in Osnabrück, Germany, in 2013

During her time in office, von der Leyen cultivated the image of being the social conscience of the CDU [57] and helped Merkel to move the CDU into the political centre-ground. [58] In speaking out for increasing the number of childcare nurseries, for the introduction of a women's quota for listed companies' main boards, for gay marriage and a nationwide minimum wage, von der Leyen made enemies among the more traditionalist party members and won admirers on the left. [59]

Von der Leyen also lobbied for lowering the barriers to immigration for some foreign workers, in order to fight shortages of skilled workers in Germany. [60] In 2013, she concluded an agreement with the Government of the Philippines that was aimed at helping Filipino health care professionals to gain employment in Germany. A vital provision of the agreement is that the Filipino workers are to be employed on the same terms and conditions as their German counterparts. [61]

Von der Leyen was initially considered the front-runner to be nominated by the ruling CDU/CSU parties for election as President of Germany in the 2010 presidential election, [62] but Christian Wulff was eventually chosen as the parties' candidate. The news media later reported that Wulff's nomination came as a blow to Merkel, whose choice of Leyen had been blocked by the two parties' more conservative state premiers. [63]

In November 2010, von der Leyen was elected (with 85% of the votes) as one of four deputies of CDU chairwoman Merkel, serving alongside Volker Bouffier, Norbert Röttgen and Annette Schavan. Later that month, she told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the CDU should consider establishing a formal voting process for choosing future candidates for Chancellor. [64] In 2012, she was re-elected (with 69% of the votes) as one of Merkel's deputies as CDU chairwoman, this time serving alongside Bouffier, Julia Klöckner, Armin Laschet and Thomas Strobl. [65]

In the negotiations to form a government following the 2013 federal elections, von der Leyen led the CDU/CSU delegation in the labour policy working group, with Andrea Nahles of the SPD as her co-chair. [66]

Minister of Defence, 2013–2019

Von der Leyen with German soldiers during a visit to the Field Marshal Rommel Barracks, Augustdorf (2014) Vonderleyen 2014 bundesverteidigungsministerin.JPG
Von der Leyen with German soldiers during a visit to the Field Marshal Rommel Barracks, Augustdorf (2014)

In December 2013, Ursula von der Leyen was appointed by Merkel as Germany's first female defence minister. [59] By placing a significant party figure such as von der Leyen at the head of the Defence Ministry, Merkel was widely seen as reinvigorating the scandal-ridden ministry's morale and prestige. [67] Until her 2019 appointment as the president of the European Commission, she was the only minister to remain with Merkel since she became chancellor in 2005. [1]

In December 2014, von der Leyen had her fingerprint cloned by a German hacker who was able to use the commercially available VeriFinger product from Neurotechnology UAB to replicate her fingerprint using photographs taken with a "standard photo camera". [68] [69]

In August 2016, von der Leyen joined the World Economic Forum board of trustees. [70]

In September 2016, von der Leyen chaired the EPP Defence Ministers Meeting, which gathers EPP defence ministers ahead of meetings of the Council of the European Union. [71]

Former British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon noted in 2019 that she had been "a star presence" in the NATO community and "the doyenne of NATO ministers for over five years". [2] She has faced domestic criticism for her leadership style, reliance on outside consultants, and continued gaps in military readiness. [72]

International crises
Chuck Hagel and Ursula von der Leyen at the September 2014 NATO summit in Newport, Wales Chuck Hagel and Ursula von der Leyen at the NATO summit, September 2014.jpg
Chuck Hagel and Ursula von der Leyen at the September 2014 NATO summit in Newport, Wales

Within her first year in office, von der Leyen visited the Bundeswehr troops stationed in Afghanistan three times and oversaw the gradual withdrawal of German soldiers from the country as NATO was winding down its 13-year combat mission ISAF. [73] In September 2015, she signalled that she was open to delaying the withdrawal of 850 German soldiers from Afghanistan beyond 2016 after the Taliban's surprise seizure of the northern city of Kunduz. German forces used to be based in Kunduz as part of NATO-led ISAF and remain stationed in the north of the country. [74] She later opposed the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. [75]

Von der Leyen and General Bekir Ercan Van (far left), the commander of Incirlik Air Base, who was accused of complicity in the 2016 Turkish coup d'etat attempt 2364246 Ismet Yilmaz und Ursula von der Leyen im Januar 2016.jpg
Von der Leyen and General Bekir Ercan Van (far left), the commander of Incirlik Air Base, who was accused of complicity in the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt

In the summer of 2014, she was instrumental in Germany's decision to resupply the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters with lethal assistance. [76] Following criticism from German officials of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's escalation of the Kurdish–Turkish conflict in August 2015, von der Leyen decided to let Germany's three-year Patriot missile batteries mission to southern Turkey lapse in January 2016 instead of seeking parliamentary approval to extend it. That same month, she participated in the first joint cabinet meeting of the governments of Germany and Turkey in Berlin. [77] By April 2016, under von der Leyen's leadership, the German Federal Armed Forces announced they would commit 65 million Euro to establish a permanent presence at Incirlik Air Base, as part of Germany's commitment to the military intervention against ISIL. [78] [79] [80]

At the Munich Security Conference in February 2015, von der Leyen publicly defended the German refusal to supply Ukraine with weapons. Stressing that it was necessary to remain united in Europe over Ukraine, she argued that negotiations with Russia, unlike with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadists, were possible. Angela Merkel saw Ukraine and Russia as a chance to prove that in the 21st century, developed nations should solve disputes at the negotiating table, not with weapons, she said. She also noted that Russia has an almost infinite supply of weapons it could send to Ukraine. She questioned whether any effort by the West could match that or, more importantly, achieve the outcome sought by Ukraine and its supporters. [81] On the contrary, von der Leyen said that giving the Ukrainians arms to help them defend themselves could have unintended and fateful consequences. "Weapons deliveries would be a fire accelerant," von der Leyen told the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily. She agreed with NATO SACEUR General Philip Breedlove that "it could give the Kremlin the excuse to openly intervene in this conflict." [82]

After Hungary used a water cannon and tear gas to drive asylum seekers back from the Hungarian-Serbian border in September 2015, during the European migrant crisis, von der Leyen publicly criticised the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and called the measures "not acceptable and [...] against the European rules that we have". [83]

Under von der Leyen's leadership, the German parliament approved government plans in early 2016 to send up to 650 soldiers to Mali, boosting its presence in the U.N. peacekeeping mission MINUSMA in the West African country. [84]

Armed forces reform
Von der Leyen during the MSC 2017 Ursula von der Leyen MSC 2017.jpg
Von der Leyen during the MSC 2017

In June 2014, von der Leyen introduced a €100 million plan to make the Bundeswehr more attractive to recruits, including by offering crèches for soldiers' children, limiting postings to match school term dates, and considerable rises in hardship allowances for difficult postings. [85] [86]

In August 2014 in a debate over funding priorities, von der Leyen categorised as "vital to national interests" only sensor technology and crypto technology and left all other funding items as secondary. Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel was unhappy with her and said that "this will have significant consequences for national defence procurement and European cooperation" as the key focus of the debate would determine where funding will be allocated. She admitted that "Germany would at present be unable to meet NATO requirements". For example, at this time the majority of the Luftwaffe was grounded, with 42 of its 109 Eurofighter Typhoons and 38 of 89 Tornado fighters ready for deployment. An external report had been commissioned and, with cost overruns rising into the billions of euros, all nine of the Bundeswehr's major projects had been delayed by between 30 and 360 months. This occurred one year into her tenure at Defense. [87]

In 2015, as a result of severe NATO–Russian tensions in Europe, Germany announced an increase in defence spending. In May 2015, the German government approved an increase in defence spending, at the time 1.3% of GDP, by 6.2% over the following five years, allowing the Ministry of Defense to modernise the army fully. [88] Plans were also announced to expand the tank fleet to a potential number of 328, order 131 more Boxer armoured personnel carriers, increase the submarine fleet, and to develop a new fighter jet to replace the Tornado. [89] [90] [91] [92] Germany considered increasing the size of the army, [93] and in May 2016 von der Leyen announced it would spend €130 billion on new equipment by 2030 and add nearly 7,000 soldiers by 2023 in the first German military expansion since the end of the Cold War. [94] [95] [ better source needed ] In February 2017, she announced that the number of Bundeswehr professional soldiers would increase from 178,000 to 198,000 by 2024. [96]

In April 2017 after Bundeswehr officials failed to properly investigate persistent reports of brutal hazing rituals, sexual humiliation, and bullying in military training, von der Leyen fired the army's training commander, Major General Walter Spindler, in 2017. [97]

Progress towards a European Army

As a consequence of improved Dutch–German cooperation, since 2014 two of the three Royal Netherlands Army Brigades are under German Command. In 2014, the 11th Airmobile Brigade was integrated into the German Division of fast forces (DSK). The German 414 Tank Battalion was integrated into the Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade. In turn, the Dutch 43rd Mechanized Brigade will be assigned to the 1st Panzer Division of the German army, with the integration starting at the beginning of 2016, and the unit becoming operational at the end of 2019. [98] In February 2016 it was announced that the Seebatallion of the German Navy would start to operate under Royal Dutch Navy command. [99] The Dutch-German military cooperation was seen in 2016 by von der Leyen and Dutch Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert as an example for setting up a European defence union. [99]

A further proposal by von der Leyen, to allow non-German EU nationals to join the Bundeswehr, was met in July 2016 by strong opposition, even from her own party. [100]

According to a policy dictated by von der Leyen in February 2017, the Bundeswehr is to play a greater role as an "anchor army" for smaller NATO states, by improving coordination between its divisions and smaller members' Brigades. [101]

It was announced in February 2017 that the Czech Republic's 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade and Romania's 81st Mechanized Brigade would be integrated into Germany's 10 Armoured Division and Rapid Response Forces Division. [102]

Military procurement
Ursula von der Leyen with US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (2015 in Berlin) Hires 150622-D-DT527-449c Ashton Carter and Ursula von der Leyen in Berlin 2015.jpg
Ursula von der Leyen with US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (2015 in Berlin)

In October 2014, von der Leyen pledged to get a grip on Germany's military equipment budget after publishing a KPMG report on repeated failures in controlling suppliers, costs and delivery deadlines, e.g., with the Airbus A400M Atlas transport plane, Eurofighter Typhoon jet and the Boxer armoured fighting vehicle. [103]

In January 2015, von der Leyen publicly criticised Airbus over delays in the delivery of A400M military transport planes, complaining that the company had a serious problem with product quality. [104] Under her leadership, the ministry agreed to accept 13 million euros in compensation for delays in deliveries of both the second and third A400M aircraft. In 2016, she asked for an additional 12.7 million euros in damages for delays in the delivery of a fourth plane. [105] Also in 2015, von der Leyen chose MBDA, jointly owned by Airbus, Britain's BAE Systems, and Italy's Leonardo S.p.A., to build the Medium Extended Air Defense System, but set strict milestones for it to retain the contract. [106]

Arms exports
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen after being received by Vice Admiral AR Karve, Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command during her visit to India German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen after being received by Vice Admiral AR Karve, Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command.jpg
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen after being received by Vice Admiral AR Karve, Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command during her visit to India

During her May 2015 visit to India, von der Leyen expressed support for a project initiated by the Indian government to build six small German TKMS diesel-electric submarines for a total cost of $11 billion. [107] [108]

In 2019, she also promoted the German government's decisions on arms exports to Saudi Arabia and Turkey. [109] [110]

"Consultants affair"

Since 2018 an investigative committee organised by Germany's Federal Audit Office has been looking into how contracts worth tens of millions of euros were awarded to external consultancy firms. [111] [112] [72] The auditing office has found several irregularities in how the contracts were awarded. During the investigation, two of von der Leyen's phones were confiscated, but data from both phones have been deleted before being returned to the defence ministry. [113] In turn, opposition lawmaker Tobias Linder has filed a criminal complaint against von der Leyen suspecting deliberate destruction of evidence relevant for the case. [114] [115]

CDU party career

Von der Leyen was elected as a member of the CDU executive board in December 2014 and received 70.5% of the votes. As in her reelections in 2016 (72.4%) and 2018 (57.47%), this was the weakest of all results. [116] [117] [118] [119]

As a cabinet member, von der Leyen was, for several years, regarded as one of the leading contenders to succeed Merkel as Chancellor. [57] [58] [120] [121] [122] [123] In 2010 she was Merkel's preferred candidate for President of Germany, but her nomination was blocked by the conservative wing of the CDU/CSU. [124] From 2018 until her nomination as European Commission president she was described as the favourite to succeed Jens Stoltenberg as Secretary General of NATO. [125] [126] [127] Die Welt reported that von der Leyen "is highly respected in the alliance" and that "all the [NATO] defence ministers listen when she speaks." [128]

President of the European Commission

ISBN 978-3-570-00959-8
  • Ursula von der Leyen, Liz Mohn, Familie gewinnt. (in German) Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh, 2007, ISBN   978-3-89204-927-2
  • Notes

    1. The process for electing the president of the European Commission is described in Article 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union. [7]
    2. The European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker criticised Von der Leyen's decision, saying: "I don't like the idea that the European way of life is opposed to migration. Accepting those that come from far away is part of the European way of life." [145] Philippe Lamberts, the president of the Greens–European Free Alliance at the European Parliament, said: "An all-white European Commission claiming to protect 'our European way of life' is a far cry from the idea of unity in diversity on which this union is built. Von der Leyen must present a better proposal". [146]

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    Michael Grosse-Brömer is a German lawyer and politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who has been serving as a member of the Bundestag since 2002.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Markus Söder</span> German politician

    Markus Thomas Theodor Söder is a German politician serving as Minister-President of Bavaria since 2018 and Leader of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU) since 2019.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Johann Wadephul</span> German politician

    Johann David Wadephul is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who has been a member of the German Parliament since 2009.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Annette Widmann-Mauz</span> German politician

    Annette Widmann-Mauz is a German politician of the Christian Democrats who has been serving as a member of the German Bundestag since 1998, representing the electoral district of Tübingen. In addition to her work in parliament, she served as Parliamentary State Secretary in Chancellor Angela Merkel's second and third cabinet from 2009 until 2021.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Von der Leyen Commission</span> European Commission since 2019

    The von der Leyen Commission is the current European Commission, in office since 1 December 2019 and is to last until the 2024 elections. It has Ursula von der Leyen as its president and it further consists of one commissioner from each of the member states of the European Union.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Silberhorn</span> German politician

    Thomas Silberhorn is a German lawyer and politician of the Christian Social Union (CSU) who has been serving as a member of the Bundestag from the state of Bavaria since 2002.

    The European army or EU army are terms for a hypothetical army of the European Union which would supersede the Common Security and Defence Policy and would go beyond the proposed European Defence Union. Currently, there is no such army, and defence is a matter for the member states.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">51st Munich Security Conference</span> Conference

    The 51st Munich Security Conference was held from 6 to 8 February 2015. Among the more than 400 participants from nearly 80 countries were 20 heads of state, 70 foreign and defence ministers and 30 CEOs of large companies. The German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen delivered the opening speech.

    The 53rd Munich Security Conference took place from 17 to 19 February 2017 at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich. With a total of 680 participants, including 30 heads of state and government, nearly 60 representatives of international organizations and 65 top business leaders, it was the largest conference to date. Prominent guests and speakers were UN Secretary General António Guterres, US Vice President Mike Pence, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Federica Mogherini, Donald Tusk and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. 700 journalists were also accredited for the event. In addition to the main events of the security conference, there were 1,350 bilateral meetings among MSC participants and delegations.

    The 55th Munich Security Conference took place from 15 to 17 February 2019 at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich. Among the 600 participants were heads of state and government from more than 35 countries, 50 foreign and 30 defence ministers, other representatives from the fields of politics, the military, the arms industry, business and science, as well as members of international intergovernmental and civil society organizations.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Bjoern Seibert</span> German politician

    Bjoern Seibert is a German politician who is the current Head of Cabinet for Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. He's worked with von der Leyen since she was Defence Minister of Germany.


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    Ursula Von der Leyen - April 2022.jpg
    Presidency of Ursula von der Leyen
    1 December 2019 present
    Ursula von der Leyen
    Political offices
    Preceded by Minister of Family Affairs and Youth
    Succeeded by
    Preceded by Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
    Succeeded by
    Preceded by Minister of Defence
    Succeeded by
    Preceded by German European Commissioner
    Preceded by President of the European Commission