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European Commission: Von der Leyen's new team confirmed

November 27, 2019

The European Parliament voted in favor of Ursula von der Leyen's new commission on Wednesday, after months fraught with uncertainty for the German lawmaker. The new commission will take over on December 1.

Incoming EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen
Image: Reuters/V. Kessler

Von der Leyen outlines ambitious agenda

Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's  new team of commissioners were confirmed by a vote of the European Parliament on Wednesday.

In Strasbourg, 461 of the lawmakers voted in favor, 157 against and 89 abstained. Von der Leyen only needed a simple majority to secure confirmation as commission president.

Incumbent Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted his congratulations.

Read more: European Commission: 'Team Ursula' gears up

"Our union will embark on transformation that will touch every part of our society and economy and we will do it because it will be the right thing to do, not because it will be easy," she said ahead of the vote.

She pledged "transformation which will touch every part of our society and our economy."

"We are ready, Europe is ready. My message is simple: Let's get to work," she added. Her commission will take over on December 1.

Von der Leyen's new European Commission
Von der Leyen's new European CommissionImage: picture-alliance/dpa/AP/V. Mayo

Climate change at the heart of the new commission

The German lawmaker also stressed that the "existential" challenge of climate change, putting this at the forefront of her new agenda.

"We don't have a moment to waste any more on fighting climate change," von der Leyen told the assembly on Wednesday.

The new commission of 27 commissioners will have three executive vice-presidents: Valdis Dombrokvskis (Latvia), Frans Timmermans (Netherlands) and Margrethe Vestager (Denmark).

Dutch socialist Timmermans is in charge of the European Green Deal that Von der Leyen championed.

"It will need massive investment," she told the parliament, referring to her plan to tackle climate change.

Read more: Can the EU's Ursula von der Leyen fulfill her promises?

Difficult path to confirmation

The European Parliament previously rejected three of von der Leyen's candidates from France, Romania and Hungary, whose governments then had to find replacements. She also caused controversy when she announced a portfolio that she initially called "Protecting our European Way of Life." After heavy criticism from the left that it pandered to right-wing populism and was misleading, it was replaced by the title "Promoting the European Way of Life."

Controversy also arose after the UK failed to nominate a commissioner, even after Brexit was delayed until January 31. The EU has launched legal action against the UK for breaching treaty obligations.

Von der Leyen has received praise for her effort to create a gender-balanced commissioner for the first time. 13 of her 27 commissioners are women.

The German lawmaker is now all set to take over from Juncker on Sunday.

ed/stb (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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