EU chief nominee hopes Britain will ditch Brexit

Ursula von der Leyen signals she will not reopen Brexit talks

"I know it was a bumpy start we had together", von der Leyen told legislators from the Renew Europe liberal group on Wednesday.

"I think the backstop is of utmost importance and we absolutely know how crucial this nonexistent border is for you", she said in response to an Irish MEP.

She also acknowledged the "bumpy start" she had gotten off to with the liberals, referencing the widespread disapproval of her surprise nomination over the candidates who had been announced before the European Parliament elections in May. "What she will do concretely is unclear". "Having the backstop in the Brexit deal is precious, important and has to be defended".

Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has said that he will defend Ireland's corporate tax rate in Brussels, after a meeting with Ursula von der Leyen, the nominee for European Commission president.

Ursula von Der Leyen was nominated to take over the reins of the European Commission after long debate among European Union leaders on who should succeed current president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Philippe Lamberts, the other co-president of the Greens added that just a few weeks post the elections where the Greens proposals were endorsed by voters, von der Leyen "is ignoring the climate emergency and even wants to aim for lower climate targets than previously agreed by the European Parliament". Von der Leyen needs the backing of an absolute majority of 376 votes in the 751-strong chamber to get confirmed as president of the European Commission.

The German lawmaker needs at least 374 votes from 747 MEPs in order to become European Commission president.

Ms von der Leyen has now met with all the Parliament's political groupings in the hope of convincing them to support her. Her earlier meetings with the EPP, Eurosceptic group and socialists were not broadcast online. "That was my first impression of Europe", she said.

On Brexit, Ms von der Leyen described herself as a "Remainer" and expressed her desire for Britain to remain in the EU. "I prefer to speak about the army of the Europeans, not the European army", she said, citing as a model the existing cooperation between Dutch and German forces. Pointing out the efforts made to bring southern and eastern European countries into the EU as part of the founding vision of the union, she expressed disappointment that the United Kingdom "is not being given that same energy to keep us". She also stressed that the focus of her attention will be on promoting the rule of law, digitalization, competitiveness and the fight against climate change.

Mrs von der Leyen also spoke in favour of enlarging the eurozone and the EU's open-border Schengen area, and said the European Union should be ready to take in western Balkan countries.

"I welcome the commitments, given by Mrs Von der Leyen, to complete and strengthen the Capital Markets Union, but for Irish consumers, now facing sky-high interest rates and spiralling insurance premiums, this is a very theoretical response", he said.

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