What motivates von der Leyen’s very long work weeks? In any case, she is not known for her strong ideological views, except in cases where you would not expect from a CDU politician: on the Green Deal. Eckhot: “Her predecessors always said: We don’t have time for the environment right now, it’s a crisis. That made me angry. Von der Leyen is the first to present climate policy as a comprehensive narrative. about Planet Earth, the BBC’s documentary series starring David Attenborough, the initial reaction was: Help, we’ve got a tree hugger! The commission chief regularly refers to her now one-year-old granddaughter, who should live on a climate-neutral continent in 2050.
What drives Von der Leyen, says one senior official, is “a Protestant profession of European conviction”. She was spoon fed on the latter. Von der Leyen was born in Brussels and lived there until she was thirteen. One of the first officials of the committee was her father, Ernst Albrecht. Nor did the political interest come out of nowhere: her father would later become Prime Minister of Lower Saxony and was in the running to become chancellor in 1980. “He was her hero,” says one of her confidants.
In 2010, von der Leyen, then Minister of Social Affairs, told Chancellor Merkel that he wanted to go to Brussels as a commissioner. Merkel chose Gunther Oettinger for political reasons. “Brussels didn’t know von der Leyen, but she knew Brussels,” says Heemskerk.
MEP de Lange: “She sees the populists calling for the destruction of the European Union. Under her mandate, she will do everything she can to prevent the destruction of what her father built. Vestager: “Russia’s brutal attack on Ukraine showed that unity is our strength. But member states don’t just agree, it takes a lot of effort.
Von der Leyen believes in Europe. It not only wants to consolidate the European Union, but to make it a pioneer. The Green Deal is just “one carrier,” as a commission official defines the strategic plan. An important one, but Von der Leyen wants Europe to also become a military and industrial leader. D66 MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld sees power will power In Von der Leyen, the desire to leave a mark in history. What matters is that she is the first woman to head the commission, says Commissioner Vestager. “Men believe they are entitled to leadership positions, and women want to prove themselves.”
Thanks to von der Leyen, half of the committee became – also for the first time – women. Manly behavior has fallen on the conference table. She cuts off the membership of male commissioners when they interrupt female colleagues without good reason.
According to Vestager, von der Leyen acts out of a deep sense of necessity. “She’s in a position to make a difference, maybe not every day but a good part of the week. She considers it a privilege but also a duty to fulfill the role. She doesn’t allow herself to bring out a jar of ice cream in her room on the 13th floor, lounging on the couch like Bridget Jones Because she knows it won’t solve anything, few in Brussels doubt that she will run for a second term in 2024.
“Pop culture enthusiast. Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Analyst. Student. Explorer.”