Ursula von der Leyen – the EU chief being savaged throughout the continent for the bloc’s shambolic vaccine roll-out – was parachuted into the job in 2019 after an erratic spell within the German cupboard which noticed her labelled ‘the federal government’s weakest minister’.
A educated gynaecologist, eager equestrian and mom of seven who as soon as lived in London below a pretend identify due to terrorist threats in opposition to her father in West Germany, von der Leyen adopted him into politics and rapidly rose up the ranks.
However there have been raised eyebrows in Germany when she was vaulted from Berlin‘s defence ministry into Europe’s prime job in 2019, along with her personal coalition companions releasing a file accusing her of leaving the German navy in a ‘shabby state’.
Now von der Leyen, 62, faces fury throughout Europe over lacking vaccine provides and a roll-out trailing far behind Britain and the US, in addition to a bungled transfer to impose export controls in Eire which united London and Dublin in opposition.
Von der Leyen is carried by Australian actor Hugh Jackman on an episode of a German TV present in December 2008, when she was households minister in Angela Merkel’s first cupboard
A 19-year-old Ursula Albrecht (left), as she was then identified, sits along with her father Ernst Albrecht – a politician, Brussels official and chocolate biscuit government – and his spouse Heidi-Adele in 1978
Von der Leyen along with her seven youngsters – Donata, Egmont, David, Johanna, Gracia, Sophie and Victoria – in 2003 when she was a state minister in Decrease Saxony
Born in 1958, von der Leyen is the daughter of Ernst Albrecht, a Brussels official and chocolate biscuit government who later turned the state premier of Decrease Saxony.
As a member of the conservative CDU, he was seen as a possible goal for the far-left Baader-Meinhof terrorists who had been plaguing West Germany on the time.
Amid fears that the younger Ursula could be focused, she adopted the false identify ‘Rose Ladson’ whereas learning on the London College of Economics within the 1970s.
Having additionally lived in Belgium and the US, she finally moved again to West Germany and educated as a gynaecologist.
She was awarded a PhD from Hanover Medical College – though this later got here below scrutiny when a legislation professor accused her of plagiarism in 2015.
The college finally cleared her, saying her copied passages had been ‘a mistake, not misconduct’ – saving her from the ignominy of being the third Merkel minister in 4 years to resign due to tutorial plagiarism.
Her political profession started after German reunification as an official within the CDU and subsequently a well being minister in Decrease Saxony, the place her father had been premier.
In 2005, she turned Germany’s household affairs minister in Angela Merkel’s first cupboard, a task during which she usually mentioned her personal massive household – having had seven youngsters between 1987 and 1999 along with her husband Heiko von der Leyen.
Von der Leyen, then German labour minister, will get a kiss on the cheek from George Clooney after giving him an award for his peace work at a ceremony in 2013
Von der Leyen is pictured left arriving at a cupboard assembly in Berlin in 2007, and left assembly Ivanka Trump at a safety convention in Munich in 2019
Von der Leyen meets troopers from Germany’s Bundeswehr in Afghanistan in December 2013, quickly after her appointment because the nation’s first feminine defence minister
Seen as a reasonable conservative, she overtly supported same-sex marriage earlier than Merkel did and supported a minimal wage when she was labour minister.
She was additionally credited with serving to to modernise the picture of Merkel’s social gathering, as soon as showing on a TV present the place actor Hugh Jackman hoisted her out of a barrel.
On one other event she acquired a kiss from George Clooney after handing him an award for selling peace.
In 2010, she was within the working to turn out to be the primary feminine president of Germany, a principally ceremonial place chosen by MPs and regional lawmakers.
Though she didn’t get the job, von der Leyen turned a CDU deputy chief later that yr and was generally talked about as a future successor to Merkel.
However her status took various setbacks throughout her tenure as German defence minister, a submit she was given in Merkel’s third cupboard in 2013.
The military was engulfed by scandal when an officer was arrested for allegedly plotting to disguise himself as an asylum seeker and stage a militant assault with a view to body Syrian refugees.
It additionally emerged that German military chiefs had been conscious of an extremist thesis he had written in 2014 during which he argued that human rights would result in the genocide of Western peoples – however he was nonetheless allowed to function a soldier.
Beneath strain for failing to stamp out right-wing extremism within the ranks, von der Leyen lashed out at ‘weak management’ within the Bundeswehr.
Von der Leyen, pictured with feminine troopers at a camp in Afghanistan in 2013, confronted heavy criticism over her time as defence secretary below Angela Merkel
Von der Leyen seems relieved after she narrowly received her affirmation vote to turn out to be the brand new President of the European Fee in July 2019
A 27-year-old Ursula Albrecht along with her then-fiance, now husband, fellow physician Heiko von der Leyen in 1986 – when her father was state premier of Decrease Saxony
Von der Leyen’s critics stated her feedback had ‘alienated’ navy leaders and left troopers ‘horrified’.
And her personal management was suffering from additional issues together with gear shortages which precipitated consternation amongst fellow NATO international locations.
In 2019, a parliamentary report stated fewer than half of Germany’s Eurofighter and Twister jets had been prepared for fight the earlier yr.
The navy needed to scrounge for sufficient night time imaginative and prescient goggles, physique armour and different gear to have the ability to lead NATO’s speedy response troop in 2019.
Von der Leyen was additionally blamed for a ‘value explosion’ within the refurbishment of a navy coaching ship, which value 10 occasions greater than deliberate.
Nonetheless, she remained defence minister till 2019 when European Parliament elections occurred – with the Fee presidency vacant on the finish of Jean-Claude Juncker’s five-year time period.
Von der Leyen was not a candidate on the elections, with the correct placing ahead Germany’s Manfred Weber and the left nominating Dutchman Frans Timmermans.
However neither of those candidates had been accepted by EU leaders, undermining a system that was meant to present democratic legitimacy to the Fee chief.
As a substitute, von der Leyen’s identify emerged practically out of the blue as another option to move the Fee.
Merkel and von der Leyen, pictured on the chancellery in Berlin final yr, had been seen as shut cupboard colleagues in Merkel’s varied coalitions
Von der Leyen, pictured on a swing and in equestrian gear when she was households minister, was seen as having helped to modernise the picture of Merkel’s CDU social gathering
Whereas her nomination broke the stalemate in Brussels, it raised eyebrows in Germany given her patchy report as defence minister for the final six years.
Merkel’s junior coalition companions, the Social Democratic Social gathering (SPD), opposed her appointment and printed a paper calling her an ‘insufficient and inappropriate candidate’ to guide the Fee.
‘From the very starting, she overestimated herself,’ the file stated, including that she had left the Bundeswehr in a ‘shabby state’.
Martin Schulz, a former SPD figurehead, stated on the time: ‘Von der Leyen is our weakest minister. That is apparently sufficient to be head of the Fee’.
The awkward coalition politics pressured Merkel to abstain on a vote amongst European leaders to place von der Leyen’s identify ahead as president.
Days later, von der Leyen scraped residence by 383 votes to 327 in a affirmation vote in Strasbourg, having wanted 374 for the required majority.
Taking workplace in July 2019, she touted her background because the daughter of a European official, saying that ‘I come from a household that has a European historical past’.
She additionally known as for nearer navy co-operation within the EU after Brexit – accusing Britain of getting ‘persistently blocked every part that had Europe written on it’.
However she distanced herself from feedback in 2011 during which she had spoken overtly of making a ‘United States of Europe’ which might work like America.
As Fee president, she was Brussels’s most seen face – together with Michel Barnier – through the tense Brexit negotiations with Boris Johnson final yr.
However her biggest check has include the pandemic, and the vaccine race which a lot of Europe now blames her for bungling.