Ursula von der Leyen, became the 1st woman President of the EU’s college of commissioners on 1st Dec 2019. Her appointment was controversial because she was not one of the spitzencanditaten. The record of her commission is documented on wikipedia. I became interested in this when trying to understand how and why the CoFoE was launched. Here are my notes on her appointment.


It seems I wrote a pen-picture of it’s genesis on my blog, Spitzen Kandidaten, the rule of law and the EU’s CoFoE. I say,

President Macron in 2019 called for a Conference on the Future of Europe, his plan was to have it done for the French Presidency starting on 1st Jan to allow him a big fanfare and stepping stone to the French Presidential elections. The Conference’s genesis was complex but impetus was given by the shenanigans played in the appointment/election of Von der Leyen as President of the Commission. The Parliament was unhappy that the EPP Spitzenkandidat, Manfred Weber, was dumped by the EPP and an alternative, UvdL proposed by initially the German Govt and latterly by the European Council. Their successful candidate, Ursula von der Leyen promised a mechanism by which the spitzenkandidat process could be reviewed and strengthened. This was probably unwise as while this would have been popular with the Parliament, it was and is unlikely to win much support within the Council which represents the member states. From this unlikely genesis, there has been a significant pressure expressed in the broader consultations, and from the platform of the plenaries to introduce direct elections for the President of Commission.

The UK Parliament library in a research paper states that the first proposal for such a conference was made by President Macron. There are two citations for this, at politco.eu, and at La Libre (French | English via gtranslate). The speech was made in March 2019. UvdL’s formal proposal to the EP is also referenced. Its title makes this clear that it is a statement by her as a candidate for the presidency of the commission.

I was looking to see why they started the CoFoE, I am pointed at UvdL’s confirmation process and made a google query, “ep working group on the conference on the future of europe”, I found the following links, all of which suggest that the initiative may have been UvdL’s confirmation speech.

  1. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/priorities/conference-on-the-future-of-europe
  2. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/conference-on-the-future-of-europe/
  3. https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/von-der-leyen-endures-day-of-grilling-by-meps-ahead-of-confirmation-vote/
  4. https://www.politico.eu/article/european-parliament-confirms-von-der-leyen-commission/, on the construction of the commission
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_der_Leyen_Commission
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursula_von_der_Leyen#President_of_the_European_Commission
  7. https://www.ceps.eu/the-nomination-of-von-der-leyen/

She referenced the CoFoE and its citizen’s panels and called for a convention in her SOTU speech in Sept 2022. I commented on  my blog.

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