Ursula Von Der Leyen Makes History As First Female EU President

16 July 2019, 18:33 | Updated: 16 July 2019, 18:37

Ursula von der Leyen is the new EU Commission President
Ursula von der Leyen is the new EU Commission President. Picture: PA

Germany's former defence minister and advocate of climate change and gender equality has been voted in to replace Jean-Claude Juncker.

In a vote on Tuesday afternoon Ms Von der Leyen won with 383 votes to 327 with 22 abstentions.

What are the new president's aims for the EU?

This morning in a 43 minute speech, Ms Von der Leyen addressed the 751 members of the European Parliament.

She pledged for greater unity between EU countries: "We must first rediscover our unity, if we are united on the inside nobody will divide us from the outside," she said.

"If we close the gaps between us, we can turn tomorrow’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities."

In her speech the president also announced that she would be prepared to extend Brexit, promoting heckles from the Brexit Party.

- EU President Nominee Booed By Brexit Party After Saying She's Happy To Delay Brexit

Speaking about climate change, she promised Europe would become the first climate neutral continent in the world by 2050.

She said "I will propose a sustainable Europe investment bank", to unlock substantially more investment in renewable energy and other measures over the next decade.

The president announced that 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.

Earlier today, Ursula von der Leyen tweeted about the need for greater gender equality within the EU College of Commissioners.

"If not enough female commissioners are proposed I'll not hesitate to ask for new names," she said.

"We want our fair share," she said, noting that of 183 EU commissioners in the past, just 35 were women.

Who is Ursula von der Leyen?

Ursula von der Leyen is a German politician who has served as Germany's Minister of Defence since 2013.

She is a member of the Angela Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrat Union (CDU).

She was born in Brussels and studied Economics in Germany, as well as at the London School of Economics.

She is a mother to seven children.

Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen. Picture: PA