Premature praise for the new Commission?

The European Parliament approved Ursula von der Leyen's new EU Commission by 461 votes to 157 on Wednesday. Europe's commentators see this as a success for the new Commission president but suspect she won't always receive this much backing from the Parliament in the future.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Von der Leyen enjoying the fortune of the bold

The new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has worked hard for this strong result, Der Standard comments:

“No EU Commission has received this level of trust the first time around: not predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014, nor José Manuel Barroso in 2004. This is important because without the consent of the Parliament a Commission can do almost nothing and won't be able to implement any of its legislative initiatives. Since 2009, the European Parliament has had extensive co-decision rights. ... So the new president should be satisfied. She now seems to be enjoying the good fortune of the bold, considering the bumpy start and all the wrangling over the candidates' nominations and how controversial she herself was in July. Her inaugural speech was interrupted by frequent and loud rounds of applause.”

HuffPost Italia (IT) /

All and no one for Ursula

Even if the European Parliament gave its blessing, that doesn't mean it will wave through all of the Commission's decisions, HuffPost Italia points out:

“The numbers are solid: almost 80 more votes than in the July vote when Ursula was elected as president by just a few votes. But today's parliamentary majority is not solid in its intentions. ... None of the parliamentary groups are signing blank checks for Ursula ... Everyone is on guard, each in his own position: even the right-wing populists believe she'll 'need our votes sooner or later,' as Marco Zanni, leader of the sovereigntist faction, put it. Especially when it comes to the most explosive issues: the environment and immigration. All for Ursula and no one for Ursula. That's more or less how it looks.”

El Mundo (ES) /

An almost impossible undertaking

To master the challenges they face the EU member states must all work together, El Mundo stresses:

“In yesterday's speech, von der Leyen committed to regaining the pioneering role in the fight against climate change and facing up to the challenges of digitalisation. She also wants to seek a more 'humane' solution to the migration emergency which the continent has been experiencing for years. For this she will need to achieve a consensus that has so far seemed impossible between the countries of the south and the north by dispelling the spectre of a two-speed Europe and promoting greater social and territorial cohesion.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Engage in confrontation and strengthen Europe

The most urgent task for von der Leyen is to make Europe capable of taking effective action in foreign policy, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“China and the US, and Russia too, still have it too easy with the EU and play off the 28 members against each other. The future Commission president will only be able to stop this if she does what the others in the Council shy away from doing: present Europe as a self-confident actor in foreign policy. The Council will not give the Commission president the mandate to do this - she'll have to take it for herself. Juncker was too focused on the internal climate to opt for such confrontation.”

Delo (SI) /

A mammoth task for the first officer

Delo wonders whether von der Leyen can deliver on her promise of a new EU project:

“Will she listen to the many economic experts who call for the harmful effects of neoliberalism to be limited and for a different form of capitalism in the EU? They warn that neoliberalism is dividing society, impoverishing the masses, destroying the environment and bringing about the downfall of democracy. ... Will the EU be able to position itself as an independent global power that will find its interests in harmony with more or less equal partners for the good of both sides? A difficult task for someone who is not a captain (the EU heads of state are the captains) but just the first officer. Good luck!”

Observador (PT) /

Cosmopolitans and fearful citizens

Observador sees the new Commission facing a dilemma as regards the "protection of the European way of life" to which a separate portfolio is now devoted:

“The elites want to maintain a cosmopolitan and hospitable ideology (in the Kantian sense). The general population, however, wants a Europe with fewer migrants, because they perceive them as the cause of all their new fears and insecurities. If the European Commission does not make an effort to alleviate the citizens' concerns, it will move further and further away from them - with unpredictable consequences. If it does make an effort it encounters a wall of criticism from the elites. The most dangerous factor is that the agenda of the far right is trying to take control of the way the moderate centre thinks.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Doing politics with emotions not free from risk

The new EU Commission President von der Leyen is a new kind of politician, Die Presse comments:

“She's producing a political work of art. It's no longer just an abstraction that only the experts understand, but one that seeks to give people the feeling that they're involved at every step. That's why attention is being paid to sentiments that can be strengthened or simply satisfied. ... Of course, such a tactic only works as long as an escalation can be prevented. But it can get dangerous if the game with public emotions gets out of control.”