Von der Leyen celebrates his first year at the helm of the Commission in an unprecedented context

This Tuesday, December 1, a year ago, Ursula von der Leyen became the first president of the European Commission and did so with great promises of remodeling. “Our union is embarking on a renewal of all areas of our society and economy,” explained the German.

However, his desire has been interrupted by the pandemic. Although at the end of 2019, it managed to present its ambitious European Green Pact, it still cannot advance on issues that it has defended at all costs, such as digital strategy, the promotion of democracy, and the recovery of the economy.

“So far it has managed to overcome the pandemic, but it still has to put a lot of legislation forward on issues such as the migration pact, but also the green pact and the digital agenda, and my feeling is that it is an area in which it needs to improve”, notes Jacob Kirkegaard, Senior Analyst at the German Marshall Fund.

The role of the EU in the world

His promise was to turn the EU into a powerful international actor, but circumstances are not making it easy for him. “It came with this label of ‘geopolitical commission’, and in fact all its work in the last nine months or so has been on European values, on their defense or on those who do not respect them,” says European affairs expert Shada Islam.

Values ​​that are being compromised by Hungary and Poland, countries reluctant to accept the commitments of the rule of law that are being signed in the EU budget and the post-covid recovery fund endowed with 750,000 million euros. In addition, during his State of the Union address last September, he made clear his support for the LGBTI community. “Being oneself is not a question of ideology, but of identity”, recalled the President.

Meanwhile, among European Commission circles, Von der Leyen is known as a boss with tight control over her commissioners. “She comes from the largest member state, and politically she looks a lot like Angela Merkel. So you could say she’s running the Commission from the top down,” says Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior analyst at the German Marshall Fund.

Relaunch understanding with the US

When it comes to transatlantic relations, the president of the Commission does not forget the lessons learned during the presidency of Donald Trump. “I am concerned that Ursula von der Leyen, along with other EU politicians, will put themselves back in their comfort zone, which is to be in the shadow of the United States, without assuming European responsibilities when dealing with neighboring countries , with Africa, and with China “, analyzes the expert in European affairs Shada Islam.