EU Leaders Appoint New Leadership Amid Global Tensions

In a decisive move, EU leaders reappoint von der Leyen, Costa, and Kallas to key positions, confronting opposition and addressing global challenges.

Published June 29, 2024 - 00:06am

4 minutes read

Image recovered from

The European Union has reappointed Ursula von der Leyen for a second term as President of the European Commission, reaffirming its leadership amid ongoing global tensions and internal political disputes. The deal, reached swiftly at a summit in Brussels, also saw Antonio Costa of Portugal nominated as President of the European Council and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas appointed as the bloc's new foreign affairs chief. This leadership package, reflecting political and geographical balance, faced some opposition but was ultimately passed with a majority vote.

The EU's decision to reappoint von der Leyen, Kallas, and Costa comes at a critical time, with geopolitical instability largely driven by the ongoing war in Ukraine and looming U.S. elections that could see a return of Donald Trump. The urgency of these appointments was underscored by EU leaders' determination to act decisively and ensure stability in the face of these challenges. However, this swift decision was not without controversy, particularly from far-right leaders.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her discontent with the process, labeling it a 'stitch-up' designed to sideline the increasing influence of far-right parties in Europe. Meloni abstained from voting on von der Leyen and voted against Costa and Kallas. Similarly, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban voted against von der Leyen and did not support Kallas. Despite these objections, the broader support from EU leaders ensured the passage of the leadership slate.

The reappointment of von der Leyen is seen as a continuation of her centrist policies and her administration's robust response to previous challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing support for Ukraine. In her next term, she will need to secure the backing of the European Parliament, which has shifted further right in recent elections. This process is expected to involve intense negotiations to build a broad majority for her confirmation.

Kaja Kallas, Estonia's Prime Minister, brings to the role of foreign affairs chief a strong pro-Ukraine stance, reflecting Estonia's proximity to the conflict. Kallas has highlighted the importance of European unity in the midst of war in Europe and growing global instability. Costa's appointment as President of the European Council, a role involving brokering deals within the often divided EU, was confirmed despite concerns over a domestic corruption scandal in Portugal, which has not personally implicated him.

During the summit, EU leaders also focused on strengthening the bloc's defenses against Russia and reaffirmed their support for Ukraine, signing a security agreement with Kyiv. This agreement is a testament to the EU's unwavering commitment to aiding Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression, despite the internal political shifts and external uncertainties.

The summit also touched on other critical global and regional issues, including the need for increased European leadership in supporting the Palestinian Authority. EU leaders agreed to put pressure on Israel to comply with an International Court of Justice ruling to halt its offensive in Rafah, Gaza. This decision aligns with broader calls for enhanced European involvement in the Middle East peace process.

Outgoing EU Council President Charles Michel described the success of the leadership appointments as 'mission accomplished,' emphasizing the need for continuity and stability in the EU's top posts during these turbulent times. However, the reaction from far-right politicians like Meloni and Orban reflects the contentious nature of these appointments and the broader political shifts within the EU.

Costa, who has earned a reputation as a skilled negotiator in Portugal, expressed his commitment to promoting unity among the EU's member states in his new role. Meanwhile, von der Leyen and Kallas must now focus on securing the necessary parliamentary approval to officially assume their roles, a process that will test their ability to navigate the newly composed, more polarized European Parliament.

The EU's swift action in appointing its leadership team amidst global uncertainties demonstrates its resolve to maintain stability and address the pressing challenges facing Europe. As the bloc continues to navigate through geopolitical tensions, internal political shifts, and economic pressures, the reappointed leaders will play crucial roles in shaping the EU's response and ensuring its continued resilience and unity.


How would you rate this article?

What to read next...