Who are the new European Union leaders?

Ursula von der Leyen will replace Jean-Claude Juncker

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The European Union has announced its new slate of presidents, who will assume office later this year.

They will either lead the EU into the post-Brexit Europe, or be tasked with managing the leave process.

Those set to be in charge include a world leader and a convicted criminal – so who are they?

 

European Commission president: Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula Von Der Leyen has served as the German foreign minister for the past five years.

It is a controversial appointment as Mrs von der Leyen was not one of the leading candidates for the role.

The frontrunners were all rejected by EU leaders, and the 60-year-old was nominated instead.

French president Emmanuel Macron said Mrs von der Leyen is a “very good choice to head the European Commission”.

It is the first time a German will become the EU Commission president in 60 years.

Last year Mrs von der Leyen dubbed Brexit “a burst bubble of hollow promises by populists”.

 

European Council president: Charles Michel

In 2014 Charles Michel became Belgium’s youngest prime minister since 1841, at the age of 38.

He garnered international praise in 2016 for leading the country after a major terrorist attack on Brussels that left 35 people dead.

His government collapsed in December last year over migration issues, and he presented his resignation to the King days later.

Mr Michel is part of a European Parliament dynasty – his father Louis was an MEP from 2009 until earlier this year.

He has been highly critical of Britain’s inability to pass a Brexit deal through parliament.

 

European Central Bank president: Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde became the first woman to head the International Monetary Fund in 2011 and will be the first woman to head the EU’s financial arm.

She served in the French cabinet between 2005 and 2011, including stints in the Finance and Commerce ministries.

She was lauded in economic circles for rebuilding confidence in the IMF after the Greek bailout, and aided Argentina with a £45 billion bailout last year.

In 2016, Ms Lagarde was convicted in France of charges linked to the misuse of public funds, but was not penalised and remained head of the IMF.

Earlier this year she said further uncertainty over Brexit will hinder growth in the UK economy.

 

High representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs: Josep Borrell

Josep Borrell has returned to power after serving as European Parliament president from 2004 to 2007.

The Spanish Foreign Minister was last year fined £27,000 for insider trading after he sold shares in an energy company he was on the board of, shortly before it announced it was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Earlier this year he branded Britain an “obstacle” to further integration and said it was not “a good member”.

He said he “did not care” if Britain left the trading bloc.