Monday, 15 July 2019 15:17

Germany's von der Leyen supports Brexit extension

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, the nominee for European Commission president, on Monday said she would support giving the UK more time to negotiate its exit from the European Union.

The pledge was part of a series of promises to persuade socialist and liberal EU lawmakers to back her as European Commission president ahead of the vote on Tuesday.

The Socialist and liberal wings — the second- and third-largest behind von der Leyen's center-right European People's Party have called for further details from the conservative von der Leyen on a number of policy areas.

"If elected, I am ready to pave the way to the ambitious and strategic partnership we want to build with the United Kingdom," von der Leyen said in letters to the socialists and liberals in the European Parliament. "Should more time be required and should there be good reasons provided, I will support a further extension if good reasons are provided."

Von der Leyen said she will also support cutting the EU's carbon emissions up to 55% by 2030. She pledged to introduce a "carbon border tax" and to extend the bloc's emissions trading scheme.

The current 2030 goal is to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels.

In response to the socialists' demands, von der Leyen said she would push for fair minimum wages across the EU to help build a "more tolerant, fair and equal society" and an unemployment benefit scheme.

Von der Leyen also said Europe needed a burden-sharing approach when it came to political asylum policy.

In a letter to the liberal Renew Europe group, whose 108 EU lawmakers are also undecided on her candidacy, von der Leyen further pledged to address challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age.

Within her first 100 days in office, she promised to put forward legislation for a "coordinated European approach on the human and ethical implications of artificial intelligence."

Von der Leyen will address the 751-member European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday. Lawmakers will then hold a debate and proceed to vote for or against her in a secret paper ballot at 6 p.m. local time (1600 UTC).

She will likely require a share of the socialists' 153 seats to reach the required 374-vote majority in parliament. The group's 16 German members have vowed not to support her.

Meanwhile, the erstwhile German defense minister confirmed she will resign from her position, irrespective of whether she becomes European Commission president or not.

She wrote on Twitter: "Tomorrow I will ask for the confidence of the European Parliament. Regardless of the outcome, I will step down as Minister of Defense on Wednesday in order to serve Europe with
all my strength."


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