German Defense Minister and Bundestag member Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen this week was voted in to become the new President-elect of the European Commission.
Von der Leyen served in Germany’s federal government from 20015 to 2019, as the longest-serving member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet.
Numerous political pundits are, however, expressing deep reservations about her new position, citing what they believe are her lack of qualifications for a job that requires a great deal of political acumen and some military expertise.
Von der Leyen, most point out, is a member of the social elite, “glides multilingually through the world’s foreign-policy salons,” as columnist Charlemagne writes in The Economist, adding, “Many consider her spell as German defense minister a debacle.”
Bruce Bawer’s article in FrontPage Mag was even more biting, citing her degrees in economics and public health and her profession as a gynecologist before “she eventually settled on politics . . . getting herself elected to the Bundestag and serving in turn as Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth; Minister of Labor and Social Affairs; and Minister of Defense.” Bawer added that British journalist Andrew Neil recently referred to her as a “failed” defense minister and called her the “second most unpopular politician in Germany.”
One could make the case, of course, that experience in all those positions can be quite helpful when dealing with the issues generated by the influx of migrants flooding the borders of Europe these days.
In her pre-vote “Agenda for Europe,” Von der Leyen wrote that if she were elected as president of the European Commission, she would “strengthen the links between people, nations and institutions. Between expectations and delivery. Between words and deeds. My Commission will listen to the people of Europe and be bold where it makes sense for us to act, leaving national, regional and local actors to deliver where they are best placed to do so.”
Von der Leyen will now be responsible for negotiations in the European Union’s trade conflict with U.S. President Donald Trump, and will be seated at the head of a powerful authority that can impose billions in penalties on U.S. tech giants.
Bawer underlines, however, Von der Leyen’s emphasis on the idea of building a centralized, European Union military force. “We must have the courage to take foreign policy decisions by qualified majority and to have the courage to stand behind them,” she said.
It also means the European body may find the courage to forget a promise made by former President of the EU Parliament Antonio Tajani who declared he would work “to systematically deny access to all individuals” linked to terror from speaking at the EU Parliament.
Just this week, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) member Khaled Barakat, who also serves in the BDS-promiting NGO “Samidoun” was invited to — and spoke — at the European Parliament at the invitation of Spanish MEP Manu Pineda.
In a letter to the President Sassoli, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan, expressed his dismay and urged, not for the first time, for a robust system to be set in place to ensure members of designated terrorist groups will not be allowed to enter the European Parliament in the future.
A recently released report by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, “Terrorists in Suits”, revealed over 100 ties were found between terrorist operatives and BDS organizations. Barakat was included in the report for his roles in recruiting terrorist operatives, transferring terror funds from Lebanon to Belgium, and helping PFLP members receive training from the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah.
Ironically — in light of the election of a German defense minister to lead the European Commission as its president — this past June 22 the German authorities announced that Barakat’s visa would not be renewed and that all of his political activities in the country were banned.
“Barakat, a PFLP Central Committee member was recently prohibited by German authorities from speaking at a political event due to his ties to terror,” Erdan stressed in his letter to Sassoli. “The European Parliament must not be used as a platform for members of murderous terrorist organizations.”
An important question now is whether or not the European Commission’s new president-elect will support Israel in its fight against terrorism.