The delegation leader for the liberal Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP) has told Brussels Signal that he regrets supporting Ursula von der Leyen. (Peter Caddle/Brussels Signal)


Top German liberal MEP ‘regrets’ support for Von der Leyen’s first EC presidency bid


The delegation leader for Germany’s liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) told Brussels Signal he regretted supporting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

During an interview with Brussels Signal Head of News Justin Stares, Moritz Körner MEP said he was one of many liberals to back Von der Leyen’s 2019 bid to become EC President.

He is now unhappy with that decision, saying she has since implemented too much “regulation and red tape” on businesses and has failed to act decisively to protect European Union rule of law.

“I voted in favour of Von der Leyen and I regret it,” he said during the interview, which is due to be published on April 4.

Körner took particular issue with her regarding Hungary, accusing the EC chief of striking a deal with its Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at what he said was the expense of the rule of law.

Despite initially vowing to oppose an EU initiative to send aid to Ukraine at an EU summit earlier this year, Orbán left before the vote, allowing the measure to pass unopposed.

Shortly afterwards, the EC announced it was unfreezing billions in funding for Hungary, despite ongoing concerns regarding the country’s alleged rule-of-law violations.

“We saw actually Von der Leyen giving away €10 billion to Viktor Orbán so that he could go out of the room and – I don’t know where he went, to the toilet or something – to stop his veto on Ukraine,” RENEW politician Körner claimed.

“That was actually, I think, a bad mistake,” he added. “Her track record on rule of law is very bad.

“I’m pretty disappointed with her … and I am someone who actually voted for her.”

The German parliamentarian also appeared to express dismay over the liberal-aligned President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

“I would have hoped Charles Michel would have had a stronger impact on the European level,” Körner said. “A stronger liberal footprint as a European Council President.”

Asked whom he would rather see as EC head following the next elections, Körner threw his weight behind the FDP’s own Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann.

Currently serving as an MP within the German Bundestag, Strack-Zimmermann has been one of her country’s staunchest supporters of military aid for Ukraine, voting against the German Government in favour of providing Taurus cruise missiles to Kyiv.

Strack-Zimmermann has since been selected as the EC lead candidate for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) party.

This means that, in theory, if the group ends up with the most MEPs following the European Parliament elections in June, she will be appointed as the EC President.

“I am fighting now for stronger liberals in the European Parliament,” Körner said, expressing hope that Strack-Zimmermann would be selected as the EC leader.

While the chance of Körner’s party winning the Parliament elections is small, Strack-Zimmermann is also set to run in the contest as the lead MEP candidate for the FDP.