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EU leaders support Ursula von der Leyen for second term as Commission chief

by Olena Goncharova June 28, 2024 3:02 AM 2 min read
Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, casts her ballot in European parliamentary elections on June 9, 2024 in Burgdorf, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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Ursula von der Leyen has secured the nomination for a second term as President of the European Commission following an agreement between EU leaders at a Brussels summit on June 27.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is poised to become the EU's top diplomat, representing the bloc on the global stage for the next five years. Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has been chosen to serve as President of the European Council, tasked with brokering compromises among the 27 heads of state and government.

At the conclusion of the EU summit, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk tweeted: "Kaja, Ursula, and António accepted. Defence plans accepted. Satisfaction for Poland and for Europe."

Von der Leyen's nomination still requires approval from the European Parliament in a secret ballot, which is widely regarded as a more challenging hurdle than her endorsement by EU leaders. The European parliament must also approve the entire commission – which includes Kallas – at a later vote in the fall.

At the summit, the EU also signed a security agreement with Ukraine, discussed ways to strengthen EU defenses against Russia, and established the bloc's strategic priorities for the next five years.

The war in Ukraine has highlighted the EU's lack of preparedness for conflict, as the bloc struggles to supply Kyiv with sufficient weapons against Russia. This has prompted calls for greater EU coordination of defense systems and increased investment in defense industries.

Reuters reported citing diplomats that von der Leyen informed the summit that from 1999 to 2021, the EU's defense spending rose by 20%, compared to China's 600% increase and Russia's 300% increase, even before Moscow's substantial rise in military expenditure following its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Von der Leyen indicated to leaders that the EU needs to invest 500 billion euros ($535.30 billion) in defense over the next decade. Financing options include national contributions, dedicated revenue streams known as the EU's own resources, and joint borrowing, according to von der Leyen.

Ukraine war latest: Ukraine signs security agreements with EU, 2 Baltic states
Key developments on June 27: * Ukraine, EU sign security agreement in Brussels * Ukraine signs long-term security deals with Estonia, Lithuania * Russian chemical plant reportedly targeted by drone attack * Ukraine repels Russian troops from eastern Chasiv Yar neighborhood, military says * Rus…

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