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Germany's Ursula von der Leyen nominated to lead EU Commission


The European Parliament will now vote on whether or not to appoint them, but the Taoiseach says Von der Leyden can count on the support of Fine Gael MEPs.

Protracted wrangling to dish out the EU's top jobs is not new: in 2014 it took three summits to fill the posts.

But there was some consolation for Ms Merkel in that her party colleague in the Christian Democrats and longtime ally Ms Von der Leyen is set for the top job. If it is, she will become the first woman ever to get the job. She served in several posts, including labour minister and family affairs minister before becoming Germany's first female defence chief in 2013. More specifically, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said yesterday that: "We have said that we do not want Mr Timmermans as European Commission president for various reasons".

Von der Leyen, Timmermans and Vestager will all help lead the EU's policies over the next five years on everything from climate to migration to trade.

He was elected to the Belgian Chamber of representatives in 1999, at 23, where he was the youngest MP in the House.

The leaders are struggling to show the EU is still relevant and coherent after the bloc's two traditional center-right and left powers lost votes in May's European elections.

Dutch politician Frans Timmermans has failed to be nominated for president of the European Commission after being widely touted as the frontrunner.

Because both are centre-right politicians, socialist candidates should then take the post of top European Union diplomat and deputy roles at the Commission, diplomats said. German MEP Manfred Weber has withdrawn his candidacy.

French IMF chief Christine Largarde was selected to take over from Mario Draghi as head of the European Central Bank.

But after EU leaders agreed to nominate German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen to take over as head of the European Commission in November, Tusk warned London that a change in personnel did not mean a change of approach.

Michel, von der Leyen and the other nominees for the EU's highest-ranking position will now have to be ratified by the European Parliament before being formally appointed.

If the candidate does not obtain the required majority, the member states need to propose another candidate within a month's time.

Established in the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the president of the European commission leads the EU's executive branch, chairing a cabinet of 28 commissioners known as the college, and setting the bloc's policy agenda over a five-year term.

He added, "Two other fluent French-speakers, the Liberal Charles Michel and the Catalan socialist and strong anti-separatist Josep Borrell, the new foreign policy supremo, are also French speakers".

"That's a very important statement that Europe leads on gender equality", Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

Spain's socialist acting foreign minister would become the bloc's top diplomat in Brussels, replacing outgoing Italian Federica Mogherini.

Mr Sanchez said he had fought very hard for a socialist to be nominated to the head of the Commission but that he was pleased with the final top jobs package which he described as a "very balanced agreement".

The challenge is to name a group of new leaders of the European Union institutions that respect the 28-nation bloc's political affiliations, geography - a balance of countries from the north and south, east and west - population size and to have at least two women nominated.

Reuters reported earlier that Tusk would make Timmermans the president of the European Commission while letting Weber be the president of the European Parliament.