Von der Leyen promises support for enlargement if reelected EC president

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The current President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, whose mandate expires at the end of the year, was presented on Wednesday as the leading candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP) for a new five-year term.

Von der Leyen’s candidacy was announced by Manfred Weber, the head of this center-right European political grouping, which is the largest group in the European Parliament.

The President of the European Commission has promised that, if she wins another term, she will continue working in many areas she has worked on in the current term, including the process of European Union enlargement and financial assistance to the Western Balkan countries.

“I have always been a strong supporter of EU enlargement. But at the same time, I have made it clear that this will remain a merit-based process,” Von der Leyen said on February 21.

“I remain committed to this principle, but I am also pleased that the Western Balkan countries, as well as Ukraine, Moldova, are doing everything they can to carry out the necessary reforms and move towards European Union membership,” she added.

“You will also see me in the next term as a strong supporter of enlargement and the Western Balkans,” Von der Leyen declared.

By announcing her candidacy for a new term, Von der Leyen has said that “the growth plan is a clear message. We have the funds, and this is important. We have the means, and now we are in the process of defining in detail the plan for the six Western Balkan countries, to see what reforms are needed for each country, as a condition for this plan, how we will use them, and how we will include those countries in our common market”.

“The work is going very well, and there is great enthusiasm from the Western Balkan countries. As soon as the basic conditions are met, the first payments can be made quickly,” she expressed.

Von der Leyen also said that even if she wins a new mandate, she will continue to support Ukraine and will not cooperate with friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, nor with those who are against the EU and NATO.

According to the principle known as “Spitzenkandidat” (Lead Candidate), European political groupings, announce their candidate for President of the European Commission on the eve of elections for the European Parliament.

The party that wins the majority of seats in the European Parliament then seeks its candidate to win the position at the head of the Commission.

However, this also depends on the leaders of the member states, who must choose the head of the European Commission, who is then confirmed by the majority of MEPs in the European Parliament.

The European elections in the 27 member states are held from June 6 to June 9, 2024.

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