European Commission head elected with Polish support

European Parliament members from Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, as well as from the opposition Civic Platform, Democratic Left Alliance and Polish People’s Party pledged support to Ursula von der Leyen.

Ms von der Leyen received 383 votes, with 327 votes against and 22 abstaining. She needed a minimum of 374 votes.

PiS MEP, Joachim Brudziński said that her election was the result of an agreement between EU leaders, approved by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Angela Merkel is reported to have contacted PM Morawiecki several times on the issue of Ursula von der Leyen’s election. In the end the European Conservative Reformers (ECR), which is dominated by PiS MEPs supported the German nominee.

Without ECR votes in the EP the German nominee would not have won the election. There are hints that following exchanges of conversations between Poland and Germany on the matter Poland has been able to secure a good portfolio on the EC for its Commission nominee.

PiS sources acknowledge that she was not an ideal candidate because of her declarations on the rule of law and climate change, but they understand that she was seeking votes of the left in the EP. Poland’s ruling conservatives prefer her to Frans Timmermans and are prepared to accept her as a compromise.

Polish MFA sources have intimated that the new EC President understands that the share-out of posts in the EU has so far resulted in underrepresentation of the CEE states and that she aims to restore the balance. They also pointed to the fact that she has promised to treat all countries in the same way on the rule of law issue, that she understands Poland’s needs on energy and that she is a firm supporter of NATO and its stance on Russia.

Ursula von der Leyen has served for the last 6 years as the German Defence Minister, she is also the deputy Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union, Germany’s main governing Party.

The European Commission is the only institution with the power to propose legislation to the European Parliament. It oversees the enforcement of EU law.