Ursula von der Leyen has announced that she plans to run for a second term as EU Commission President. But who is the leading politician of the CDU actually and what goals does she pursue?

When Ursula von der Leyen took over as President of the EU Commission in 2019, many were surprised. She was actually firmly planned for Angela Merkel’s cabinet and her nomination also caused a lot of discontent here in Germany. But Ursula von der Leyen first had to pave her political path before she could become President of the EU Commission.

Ursula von der Leyen only joined the CDU in 1990 and was active at the local level in Lower Saxony until the end of the 1990s. In 2003 she entered the Lower Saxony state parliament and became Minister of Social Affairs under the then Prime Minister (and later Federal President) Christian Wulff.

In 2009, von der Leyen ran for the Bundestag for the first time and entered the Bundestag via the state list. She was part of Angela Merkel’s competence team early on, so that von der Leyen was able to take over the office of family minister in Merkel’s first cabinet, even though she was not yet a member of the Bundestag at the time.

In the later Merkel cabinets, von der Leyen took over the office of Labor Minister and was the first woman ever to take over the office of Defense Minister. She gave up the latter to run for the office of President of the EU Commission.

Ursula von der Leyen has long been a controversial figure. Her liberal and family policy initiatives as family minister, such as parental allowance and the expansion of daycare places, caused unrest in her own party.

As Minister of Defense, she increased the defense budget significantly. However, some expenditure was called into question when it became known that contracts had been awarded to management consultants. This became the so-called “consultant scandal”. In addition, von der Leyen advocated the purchase of drones for the Bundeswehr and a rethink in the Bundeswehr’s internal leadership.

As President of the European Commission, she has made climate protection her priority. The “European Green Deal” describes the ambitious plan to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. With the so-called CO2 border adjustment, she also wants to halve greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2030.

From 2020, crisis management also began for the EU Commission President. She coordinated the procurement of vaccines but was heavily criticized for her hesitant stance. In view of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, she expressed solidarity with the country and held out the prospect of Ukraine joining the EU.

Ursula von der Leyen is also running again for the office of EU Commission President in the European elections from June 6th to 9th. A second term in office is also uncertain, but not unlikely, due to the rise of right-wing parties in Europe.

Read more about the upcoming European elections in our ticker.

Highest storm warning level in Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate! Continuous rain with up to 100 liters per square meter floods cities and causes dams to burst. Read everything important in the weather ticker.

The mood during election campaigns is becoming increasingly violent – especially in the East. Three voting booths on the market square in Weida show who can go with whom and who can’t. The CDU mayoral candidate does not shy away from contact with right-wing extremists.