Eurocrat Tusk Throws Weight Behind Merkel Protege von der Leyen to Get Top Euro Job

NEUSTADT AM RUEBENBERGE , GERMANY - JUNE 29: German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen chats with soldiers of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, following a demonstration of capabilities of Panzergranadierbataillon 33 of the 1st Panzer Division (1. Panzerdivision) that included the new Puma infantry fighting vehicle on June …
Sean Gallup/Getty

BRUSSELS (AP) – EU Council President Donald Tusk is throwing his political weight behind Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen to get her elected as European Commission president.

Tusk, who will be bowing out when the new Commission president comes in, says his fellow member from the European People’s Party would be ideally placed to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker.

In a twitter message Tuesday only a few hours before a European Parliament vote in Strasbourg, France, on her candidacy, Tusk said that von der Leyen, the former German defense minister, was right for the job.

He wrote “when she says that she will be a passionate fighter for Europe’s unity and strength, she means it. And she will be best at it.”

Tusk himself is expected to be replaced by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel this fall.

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9:55 a.m.

Ursula von der Leyen, the candidate to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the EU executive, says she would grant another extension to the Brexit deadline if Britain needed it to assure an orderly withdrawal from the bloc.

Britain is slated to leave the bloc on Oct. 31, which is already a half-year delay from the original departure date.

Britain, however, has been wracked by internal division over the terms of departure agreed with the EU.

“I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date should more time be required,” she told EU lawmakers Tuesday.

Boris Johnson, the favorite to succeed outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May, has said that he wants to leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without an agreement.

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9 a.m.

Outgoing German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen is seeking to woo enough legislators at the European Parliament to secure the job of European Commission President in a secret vote late Tuesday.

The Christian Democrat of the European People’s Party is promising the parliamentarians she will put climate and social issues at the heart of her program over the next five years as she seeks to gather the requisite 374 votes out of 747.

Von der Leyen was a last-minute candidate to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker that the EU leaders agreed on as part of a package of top jobs that were decided on early this month.

Under the package, the free-market liberal Renew Europe group got Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as Council President and the Socialists won the top parliament job.

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