A year of von der Leyen: sensible or too hesitant?

Ursula von der Leyen's first year in office has turned out very differently than expected. The EU is fighting the coronavirus pandemic and the worst recession in its history. Von der Leyen's prestige project, the Green Deal, seems to have been put on hold for the time being. Observers discuss whether she is up to the job.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

Seizing a great opportunity

After a rough start Ursula von der Leyen has found her way, La Repubblica comments:

“Since [the decision on the 750 billion coronavirus recovery fund] she has gone about her work with aplomb and without making any mistakes (apart from the unambitious proposal on migrants). She is trying to seize the historic opportunity to revitalise Europe on the basis of the rekindled harmony between Paris and Berlin. This is a recipe for success for any EU commissioner, and some believe that if the Franco-German axis is maintained she could even become a second Jacques Delors. But there are those who accuse her of vertical management of the Commission and a lack of courage vis-à-vis the heads of state. But the fact is that the atmosphere in Europe seems less confrontational thanks to her politeness (which conceals great determination).”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Conflicts must be fought out

Von der Leyen needs to change her style, the Süddeutsche Zeitung argues:

“It's not enough to make emotional speeches. Von der Leyen must do more to seek open confrontation with unruly governments, put them in their place and step up the pressure. As it stands, her well-mannered reserve vis-à-vis Hungary is annoying. ... In general, von der Leyen should use the [Coronavirus recovery] fund to push for strict conditions and controls so that the money is not wasted. The fact that Italy and Spain would view this as undue interference is not an obstacle but an incentive. Von der Leyen is facing four years of conflicts. She must accept this and fight them out, because the price of failure would be high.”