European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday won the backing of her German centre-right party for a second term, putting her in a strong position to clinch another five years running the European Union's executive body.

At a meeting of the party leadership, Germany's opposition Christian Democrats gave their support to von der Leyen to be their candidate for Commission president. It confirms a widespread assumption that von der Leyen would seek another term.

The 65-year-old former German defence minister is now likely to become the candidate of the pan-European centre-right umbrella group, the European People's Party (EPP), at a congress in Bucharest in March.

"I am taking a very conscious and well-considered decision. I would like to run for a second term in office and I am very grateful to the CDU for nominating me as the top candidate for the EPP today," von der Leyen said at a news conference following the party meeting in Berlin.

The first woman to hold the job, von der Leyen steered the EU through the COVID-19 pandemic, the formal exit of Britain from the bloc and the ructions following Russia's full scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

She would begin a second term at a time when Europe is focusing on how to strengthen its security, with Russia waging a war on its borders and the possibility of former U.S. President Donald Trump returning to the White House.

At a security conference in Munich at the weekend, von der Leyen said the Commission would present a defence strategy proposal aimed at fostering higher and more efficient spending with joint procurement and agreements to provide predictability to industry.

The leaders of the EU's 27 member countries will choose the Commission president after elections to the European Parliament in June.


By convention, they choose a candidate from the grouping that has come first in the EU elections. As polls show the EPP has a strong lead and von der Leyen enjoys broad backing among EU leaders, she seems likely to win another term.

Her highest hurdle may be getting her Commission confirmed by a majority in the Parliament.

Despite a rise in far-right populist parties in a number of EU states, the EPP, the oldest group in the European parliament, has kept a large lead over other European groups, according to opinion polls.

In office, von der Leyen spearheaded a landmark scheme in which the EU took on hundreds of billions of euros of joint debt to fund the continent's recovery from the pandemic.

She also oversaw a programme for the joint purchase of coronavirus vaccines, which was criticised for a sluggish rollout, but ultimately delivered large quantities.

She has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine, playing a key role in imposing sanctions against Russia, providing tens of billions of euros in aid to Kyiv and putting Ukraine on a path towards EU membership.

Von der Leyen also championed a "Green Deal" vision of climate policies as a route to economic growth and job creation, which is facing increased political pushback.

The resistance from some capitals comes too late to derail the EU's 2030 climate policies, which are already fixed into law. But the next Commission looks likely to face a tougher political ride to pass any new green rules.

Von der Leyen's own political group, the EPP, has attempted - with mixed success - to scrap some of her recent environmental proposals, while the Commission has also rolled back some measures to appease protesting farmers.

Von der Leyen's chances of securing the European Parliament's backing for a second term may also depend on her winning votes from right-wing groups sceptical of the Commission's green agenda.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Riham Alkousaa, Andrew Gray, Kate Abnett and Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Matthias Williams, Gareth Jones and Sharon Singleton)