June 14. 2024. 1:57

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Germany to set out conditions for supporting von der Leyen’s nomination

While the European People’s Party came first in the European elections, its candidate and current Commission President Ursula von der Leyen still cannot count on the support of the German coalition government, with the Liberals, in particular, setting high demands in return for their approval.

There cannot be a collaboration with Giorgia Meloni’s far-right European Conservatives and Reformers (ECR) group if Ursula von der Leyen is to be re-elected, representatives of Germany’s three-party government coalition stressed on Monday (10 June).

The liberal FDP made further demands, zooming in on EU debt and the future of combustion engines, both very poignant issues for Berlin.

After the EPP scored a victory in the European elections, von der Leyen was in the pole position to win a second mandate at the helm of the European Commission, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told reporters on Monday (10 June).

However, his support will come with a price tag.

“If she wants to reach the finish line, then we also expect clear substantive commitments,” Lindner, who heads the liberal party FDP (Renew), added.

Before standing for approval in the European Parliament, the new Commission president will be appointed by a majority of EU-27 leaders, which is expected this month.

While the government of Olaf Scholz (SPD/S&D) has not excluded nominating von der Leyen, who hails from the opposition CDU party (EPP), for a second term, the final decision will have to be supported by the entire ruling coalition, including the Liberals and the Greens.

Some conditions are clear for all: Scholz and partners previously ruled out supporting von der Leyen if she was to collaborate with hard-right parties, including the ECR group, which the EPP had courted in the past weeks.

The government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit emphasised on Monday that the “chancellor made it very clear” that the next Commission “should rely on the support of the traditional parties” instead of the hard right.

FDP setting strong conditions for support

While all three coalition parties, confirmed this criterion on Monday, the liberal FDP put forward additional conditions for support, which “applies equally to [the FDP’s support in] parliament and [the German] government,” as Lindner said.

As a first condition, “a Commission president should not take the initiative for European joint debt,” Lindner said, a position which isolates the FDP within its liberal political group, where the French and others have called for more EU debt to finance the bloc’s defence industry ambitions.

“Secondly, we expect the European Commission to continue its consistent migration, immigration, and asylum policy,” Lindner added.

FDP’s Transport Minister Volker Wissing previously hailed his deal with the European Commission whereby a new category of e-fuel cars is exempted from the ban, while new cars running on petrol or diesel could not be sold anymore.

Details to be discussed in the government

The government has so far not publicly reacted to the FDP’s proposal, as the conditions for its support will still have to be “discussed within the coalition,” government spokesperson Hebestreit pointed out.

The Greens also put forward their demands for the German support on Monday, although less concrete.

Terry Reintke, lead candidate of the German and European Greens, said they have “set certain lines along which we want to negotiate, for example, that the Green Deal definitely continues.”

In recent months, internal disagreements within Germany’s three-party coalition have seen the government abstaining on several EU policies, such as new due diligence rules for companies’ supply chains.

Lindner did not want to comment on whether the government might abstain in the nomination of von der Leyen if the liberals’ demands are not met, adding that his points would be the kick-off for “political talks”.

Friedrich Merz, leader of von der Leyen’s CDU party, was unimpressed by the coalition’s demands, pointing to the drastic loss of votes by the government parties.

“The election losers have no right to dictate to us who we talk to and who we don’t talk to,” Merz told reporters.

Read more with Euractiv

Macron leaning towards backing von der Leyen as EU chief, sources say

Macron leaning towards backing von der Leyen as EU chief, sources say

French President Emmanuel Macron is leaning towards endorsing Ursula von der Leyen for another term as president of the European Commission after her centre-right camp scored strongly in European Parliament elections, two sources told Reuters.

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