Germany's von der Leyen seeks second term as EU Commission chief


Ursula von der Leyen on Monday announced her intention to seek a second term as president of the European Commission, the most powerful institution in Brussels.

The move could make the 65-year-old the most significant politician representing the bloc's 450 million citizens in a over a generation.

Von der Leyen, who was put forward by her German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, has led the EU through multiple crises, including the Covid pandemic and Russia's invasioàn of Ukraine, which forced overhauls of economic, energy and security policies.

The CDU is expected to rubber stamp her bid when its European umbrella group, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), meets in Bucharest next month.

"The world today is completely different than it was in 2019," von der Leyen told a CDU meeting in Berlin.

"We've been through a lot together over the past five years, and I think you could say we've accomplished more than we could ever imagine.

"Not only has my passion for Europe grown but, of course, also my experience of how much this Europe can achieve for its people."

Prime position

News of Von der Leyen's candidacy caps off weeks of speculation in Brussels over her political future.

She stands a good chance of extending her reign over the commission for another five years given the EPP is expected to remain the biggest party in the legislature following the 6-9 June European polls.

The race takes place against a backdrop of rising concern over Russia's influence and former American president Donald Trump's potential return to the White House.

With Europe's political mood shifting recently to the right, von der Leyen acknowledged the changes.

"The world is totally different compared to five years ago," she said in her acceptance speech, as she vowed to defend the bloc "against the divisive forces from within and without".

(with newswires)