Von der Leyen returns as commission boss after EU strikes deal on top jobs

EU leaders struck a summit deal Thursday to return Ursula von der Leyen as head of the powerful European Commission, while tapping Estonia's prime minister Kaja Kallas as the bloc's top diplomat.

The late-night accord carves up the EU's top institutional jobs for the five years to come, with former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa to head the European Council bringing together member states.

All three nominees hail from the centrist alliance that dominates the EU parliament following elections this month, despite gains by the far right including Italy's Giorgia Meloni, who put up public resistance to the top jobs deal.

While Costa, 62, will automatically succeed Council president Charles Michel this year, both von der Leyen, 65, and Kallas, 47, need to lock in majority support in the European Parliament, starting with a July vote on the commission chief that is predicted to be tight.

Tested during her first term by multiple crises from the Covid pandemic to the Ukraine war, former German defence minister von der Leyen – if confirmed – faces a no less daunting set of challenges from the Russian threat to climate change and a rising China.

Von der Leyen expressed her "gratitude" to the leaders gathered in Brussels for backing her for a second term – telling reporters she would soon outline her political priorities with a view to winning the confidence of parliament.

Declaring himself "committed to promoting unity" among member states, Costa addressed the press by videolink, saying: "Europe and the world are facing challenging moments, yes, but the European Union has demonstrated its resilience in the past."

Rounding out the list, lawmakers are expected to return the EPP's Roberta Metsola as EU Parliament president.

Read more on RFI English

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