Tuesday 16 July 2019 10:23 pm

Von der Leyen gets top job at European Commission, becoming first woman president

The European Parliament yesterday voted German conservative Ursula von der Leyen as the first female EU Commission president.

Von der Leyen, a close ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, secured 383 votes, needing a minimum 374 votes to be confirmed. 

Read more: Ex-European Commission president says UK financial services should be higher on Brexit agenda

“The trust you placed in me is confidence you placed in Europe,” she said.

“Your confidence in a united and strong Europe, from east to west, from south to north.”

“It is a big responsibility and my work starts now.”

Several items that will be high on the agenda as she begins her new role will be climate change, trade and maintaining democracy in the European Union.

As head of the EU executive, von der Leyen will be in charge of trade negotiations, economic and climate policy for 500m Europeans and antitrust rulings involving powerful tech giants.

The outgoing German defence minister has said she is open to giving more time to Britain to negotiate its exit from the bloc. She said she would work “in a constructive way” with any new British Prime Minister.

She declined to say whether she would rather see Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt become the new PM.

“This job is a huge responsibility and a challenge. I am sure you will make a great president,” outgoing Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker tweeted.

Read more: Ursula von der Leyen says EU is open to another Brexit delay

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said von der Leyen is a “committed and convincing European”.

“Even if I lose a long-standing minister today, I win a new partner in Brussels,” she said. “I am therefore looking forward to good cooperation.”