"Germany knows that we in Germany will only do well if Europe does well. In this spirit we will uphold cooperation," said Chancellor Angela Merkel when she met with designated President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
At a joint press conference following their meeting, the Chancellor wished Ursula von der Leyen all the best for her work as the next President of the Commission of the European Union. Since Germany will take over the rotating six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2020, close contact with the European Commission is enormously important, she said.
Ursula von der Leyen was elected President of the European Commission by the European Parliament on 16 July 2019. She is the first woman to head the Commission. The 61-year-old is expected to assume office on 1 December, and will head the European Commission for five years. Ursula von der Leyen was born in 1958 in Brussels. She is a fully qualified doctor and was a member of the German Bundestag from 2005 to 2019. Most recently she served as German Federal Minister of Defence.
Climate action – the EU can become a trailblazer
In the field of climate action, they discussed the respective "approaches" of Germany and the European Commission. The European Commission is aiming for almost complete climate neutrality by 2050, and aims to launch numerous measures in the first 100 days of the work of the new Commission. The Chancellor said she is looking forward to seeing the proposals and pledged Germany’s constructive support. Ursula von der Leyen stressed that this area offers huge opportunities, and that the EU can become a trailblazer.
New proposal for migration compact
They also discussed migration. This is an area in which "a huge amount of work" awaits the new Commission, said Angela Merkel, but she thinks that the German government will provide positive support for the new proposals.
Ursula von der Leyen underlined that the aim must be to be a good example in the world, in terms of how to manage migration sustainably and effectively, with a human approach. "I am absolutely convinced that the EU can do this," she said. She also announced that a new proposal for a migration compact would be presented within the first three to six months of 2020.
Keeping the Western Balkan states close to the EU
Another item on the agenda was the accession prospects of the Western Balkan states, which aim to join the EU. At the October meeting of the European Council, the proposal to begin accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania was rejected.
The Chancellor also stressed that she considers it "extremely important in terms of strategic European interests" that "these countries do not lose hope of accession". Ursula von der Leyen agreed that it is of major strategic importance for Europe "to ensure that the EU’s contacts with the Western Balkans states are as close as possible". "If we don’t do this, others will step forward in the vacuum left, and we do not want to see that."