This week, nomination has MEPs at each others’ throats; though Von de Leyen’s speech in Parliament hits all the right notes; but she only squeezes by with a minuscule nine votes.
This week it was all eyes on Strasbourg… again.
In, what the European Parliament’s Twitter account charitably called “the highlight of the plenary session,” MEPs assessed Commission President nominee Ursula Von der Leyen.
The election of the new president of the European Commission will be the highlight of the upcoming plenary session in Strasbourg on 15-18 July. Find out more ➡️ https://t.co/RJKLf8iE31 pic.twitter.com/2CyweSif7I
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) July 12, 2019
Predictably, Brexit Party MEPs were splenetic. Martin Daubney thought it was absurd that there was only one candidate.
This is absurd. Von der Leyen is the only candidate. It’s like a Eurovision Song Contest with only one entrant. BTW judging by those applauding her – less than half the chamber – this is going to be a tight vote. Might we see a huge upset on the cards? pic.twitter.com/Ftw9GnTLAS
— Martin Daubney MEP ➡️ (@MartinDaubney) July 16, 2019
And colourfully said her speech went down like “a cup of cold sick.”
Von der Leyen’s speech is going down like a cup of cold sick. Her talk of a “climate bank” – more tax on carbon emissions esp bad. About three people are clapping. The bloke from the Green Party was 20 minutes late. She’s poor pic.twitter.com/Cokdqm1E3X
— Martin Daubney MEP ➡️ (@MartinDaubney) July 16, 2019
While Brexiteers are predictably, always outraged, MEPs to the far left of the Parliament in the GUE group were also fed up: This is not democracy they said, describing the nomination as a “stitch-up”
This is not democracy! The stitch-up that led to @vonderleyen’s nomination for the EU’s most powerful job is shameful disservice to citizens. We deserve proper accountability & transparency of European institutions. #StormUrsula #EPlenary #vonderLeyen #vdL #vdleyen pic.twitter.com/CwTIHKDXvJ
— The Left in the European Parliament (@GUENGL) July 16, 2019
But Von der Leyen was determined, announcing that she would step down from the German Defence ministry come what may.
Unfortunately, pointed out Markus Becker, she confused the European Council — heads of states and governments — with the Council of the EU (the one with the ministers) in her farewell message.
Bad omen? Ursula @vonderleyen confuses the European Council (the one with the heads of states and governments) with the Council of the EU (the one with the ministers). In her farewell message to Germany’s ministry of defence, of all places. #vonderLeyen pic.twitter.com/3Sqt4u0v0O
— Markus Becker (@MarkusBecker) July 15, 2019
Jack Parrock said, “cut her some slack, I mixed them up a ton in my first few months. Oh wait…she wants to be commission president…”
On this I will give her a little bit of slack tbh. Not great but I mixed them up a ton in my first few months. Oh wait…she wants to be commission president, I retract…
— Jack Parrock (@jackeparrock) July 15, 2019
To quote Beatriz Rios: “Awkward!”
On Tuesday morning, VDL gave her speech to the assembled MEPs, and, this will shock exactly no one, the reviews were mixed.
Brexit MEP – yes another one – Henrik Overgaard Nielsen said her whole speech was about more union, “we need to get out NOW.”
Just listened to von der leyen for over 30 min. The whole speech was about more union, European army, getting rid of need for unanimity. The EU is not staying the same, we are moving rapidly towards a superstate. We need to get out NOW. pic.twitter.com/2r1VdIFyi4
— Henrik Overgaard Nielsen (@brexithenrik) July 16, 2019
Ryan Heath however said that was Von der Leyen at her best; she is very good at working an audience.
That was @vonderleyen at her best; she is very good at working an audience. MEPs will have to be brave to her down after that. While they have frustrations at the process and person, the key question now for MEPs: is there a better alternative on the shelf?
— Ryan Heath (@PoliticoRyan) July 16, 2019
By early evening it looked clear who was going to back her in the vote and who was not.\
Most MEPs from @RenewEurope and the S&Ds looked set to approve her.
Good signs for @vonderleyen from Strasbourg this evening. Liberals @RenewEurope set to back her (with a few rebels) in tomorrow's vote after VdL promised committment to a democratic convention, climate targets, and rule of law mechanism in letter today. They have 108 MEPs
— Mehreen (@MehreenKhn) July 15, 2019
Margrethe Vestager, the liberals own candidate praised her “strong, warm, balanced speech.”
— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) July 16, 2019
While the socialists’ Frans Timmermans said it was “good to see” that many of her promises were part of his own programme.
Addressing the climate crisis; minimum wage for all European workers; fair taxation; defending our values and upholding the rule of law: these are things I promised voters in the electoral campaign. Good to see they are part of @vonderleyen’s programme.
— Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) July 16, 2019
The Greens’ Ska Keller wanted more than “nice words” however. Asking “how exactly is she planning to put the words into action? Concrete proposals would have been good.”
Nice speech by @vonderleyen. But beyond nice words, nothing concrete on: #climate, #searescue, #ruleoflaw, #leadcandidates. How exactly is she planning to put the words into action? Concrete proposals would have been good.
— Ska Keller (@SkaKeller) July 16, 2019
In the end Ursual Von der Leyen was elected with a wafer thin 383 votes in favour, just nine to spare, one of the narrowest confirmation votes for a Commission President in the history of the European Parliament.
With 383 votes in favour, the European Parliament has elected Ursula von der Leyen president of the next European Commission in a secret ballot.
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) July 16, 2019
Nigel Farage was suitably unimpressed: “Power but no legitimacy,” he tweeted.
Ursula von der Leyen has scraped in by 9 votes. Power but no legitimacy.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) July 16, 2019
Elsewhere congratulations flooded in:
Congratulations to Ursula @vonderleyen, new President-elect of @EU_Commission. I wish you a lot of strength and success in keeping EU united, committed to its democratic values and ready to tackle climate change! Good luck Madam President!
— Zuzana Čaputová (@ZuzanaCaputova) July 16, 2019
— European External Action Service – EEAS 🇪🇺 (@eu_eeas) July 16, 2019
On behalf of @europarl_en, I would like to congratulate Ursula von der Leyen. The next few years will be very important for the future of the European Union and we can only tackle them successfully if we do so on the basis of full cooperation between the EU institutions. pic.twitter.com/Ga17KhFHOD
— David Sassoli (@EP_President) July 16, 2019
The work to #RenewEurope and make it stronger and more democratic starts now, and there is no time to loose.
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) July 16, 2019
Even the European Greens, who despite voting against her nomination, congratulated the first female President of the European Commission, and said they look forward to working with her.
#BREAKING@vonderleyen has been elected as the new President of the European Commission. Despite voting against her nomination, we congratulate the first female Commission President, and look forward to working with her to build a greener, fairer and more democratic union 🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/eYgpUwflek
— European Greens (@europeangreens) July 16, 2019
Dave Keating reckons he knows the real reason she squeaked in: Von Der Leyen offered the head of the ‘most powerful man in the Berlaymont’ Sec Gen Martin Selmayr on a platter to the Parliament. MEPs have had knives out for him since his controversial appointment.
SELMAYR OUT: #VonDerLeyen has offered the head of the 'most powerful man in the Berlaymont' on a platter to the European Parliament in exchange for her confirmation today.
MEPs have had knives out for him since his controversial appointment as the Commission's Secretary General.
— Dave Keating (@DaveKeating) July 16, 2019
Parody account Martini Seltzermayr summed it up: Apparently the European Parliament is either a rubber-stamping patsy or the EU is in chaos. No doubt the British press will tell us which.
— Martini Seltzermayr (@mseltzermayr) July 12, 2019
But we’ll give the final word for the most overwrought pun of the week to Berlaymonster who surmised “Von der Leyen sleeps tonight.”
Brace yourself Brussels, it’s going to be a long 5 years!
That’s it for another season of EU Tweets of the Week. We’re back in September, so remember to subscribe so you get an email to remind you to tune in again every Friday for the best mocking, shocking and rocking lampoonery and tomfoolery in the Brussels Bubble Twittersphere.