BERLIN — Europe could descend into a “constitutional crisis” if the European Parliament doesn’t back the European Council’s choice of Ursula von der Leyen as Commission boss, German conservative leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer warned Thursday.
European leaders nominated German Defense Minister von der Leyen this week to become the next Commission president, but in a curious twist, German Chancellor Angela Merkel abstained from the decision because her coalition partners at home, the Social Democrats (SPD), objected to von der Leyen taking the job.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, who leads the German Christian Democratic Union party of Merkel and von der Leyen, urged the Social Democrats to “rethink” their opposition.
“If the German Social Democrats really stick to their destructive attitude toward Ursula von der Leyen’s candidacy, this would be a burden for the coalition,” she said at a press conference with former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
“And above all, it would potentially risk a constitutional crisis in Europe” because it would mean the Parliament rejecting the choice of EU leaders, Kramp-Karrenbauer added.
“This would run against everything the Social Democrats as a European party have stood for in Germany in the past. That is why I very much hope that the reasonable forces in the SPD will prevail in the coming days.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer lamented that EU leaders rejected Manfred Weber, the conservative pick for the top Commission job, but she said von der Leyen would make a “strong” Commission president.
“It’s a fact that with Ursula von der Leyen, we would elect an excellent representative,” she said.
Kurz, the leader of Austria’s main conservative party who had also supported Weber, echoed Kramp-Karrenbauer’s backing for von der Leyen.
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“I am convinced that she is a person who will perform this task excellently,” Kurz said.
The European Parliament is expected to vote on the Commission’s presidency on July 16.