Ursula von der Leyen

She is a firm advocate of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and assumes that the EU would not reach a stronger geopolitical position without an improvement of its military capabilities, as it would showcase in a more credible image of the EU. In this field, she has the support of France

An example of von der Leyen’s willingness to increase the EU’s hard power was the establishment of Operation IRINI in May 2020, the main task of which is the implementation of Libya’s arms embargo declared by the United Nations.

Pro-NATO politician

“In my view, NATO has proved to be an excellent protective shield of freedom despite all its ups and downs, right up to the last few weeks,” said von der Leyen in November 2019. 

Von der Leyen maintains her policy preferences from when she was a Defence Minister in Germany: a traditional and hawkish view of countries in which armies are needed. Furthermore, she pleaded for a European Defence Union within the NATO framework accompanied with an active role on a global level and a closer partnership with Africa.

Despite her commitment to the transatlantic project, her relations with Donald Trump are tense. Once, she called him immature and questioned some of his decisions, as well as underlined the fact that Trump is not comfortable with female leaders.  

In spite of the above, when Trump and von der Leyen met in January, because of the World Economic Forum in Davos, she looked for an opportunity to build a better relationship with the U.S. leader. In fact, they agreed to meet in the future and strengthen their economic ties. In matters of security, it is probably difficult that Trump makes concessions as, since he reached the U.S. presidency, he has been hard with European countries’ spending in NATO.

Claudia María Yáñez Sangil

Research and Analysis Intern