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Europe live: Ursula von der Leyen accused of watering down green deal for farmers in European Commission presidential debate



Key events

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe party, said that “it’s really strange, that Viktor Orbán went to the toilet for 10 billion euro”, in a critique of current unanimous voting rules on foreign policy issues.


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Asked about EU policy toward Israel, Ursula von der Leyen said:

I have been in the Kibbutz Kfar Azza right after the attacks and I have seen the bodies. And I have been very clear in my interaction with the Israeli government that Israel has the right to defend itself within the limits of humanitarian law and international law.

And I have been to Rafah, the border crossing point, and I must say, to see how many innocent civilians are dying, especially children, is unbearable, and it is unacceptable.

And therefore we need a cease-fire. We need a cease-fire now. And we need the release of the hostages now. And we need to sit down and work on a two-state solution because this is the only solution that will bring peace to the region.

Asked if an invasion of Rafah would be a red line, von der Leyen said she’s never drawing red lines but that it would be completely unacceptable if Netanyahu would invade Rafah.


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Anders Vistisen, for the far-right Identity and Democracy Party, accused von der Leyen of bearing responsibility for making Europe more dependent on Russian energy in her past work.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European People’s party candidate, has turned to the far-right candidate on stage and said: “when I see what your AfD colleagues, the lead candidates, have done, they are under investigation for being in the pocket of Putin, and if you look at the electoral programme, you will see that it echoes the lies and propaganda of the Kremlin. So clean up your house before you criticise us.”


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Ursula von der Leyen responds that she’s been to Ukraine seven times and seen the body bags in Bucha.

In a passionate response, she said:

“If you want to end this war, Putin just has to stop fighting, then the war is over,” she said.


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Walter Baier, for the Party of the European Left, said his party is condemning Russian aggression but that it’s now time to come up with a political solution.

He also asked, “when will you put sanctions on Israel?”

Anders Vistisen, for the far-right Identity and Democracy Party, responded by raising the Qatargate controversy in the European parliament.

“If there is a criminal case against any member of the ID group, we will take it seriously,” he said, accusing others of hypocrisy.


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Bas Eickhout, for the European Green Party, has raised recent allegations that have surfaced about Russia and China’s influencing members of the European far-right.

“Maybe before you are teaching everyone, clean up your own house,” the Green candidate told the Identity and Democracy candidate.

Anders Vistisen, for the far-right Identity and Democracy Party, said that the defence talk is about trying to abolish member states’ veto rights and that the Ukraine war is being used to drive European integration.

Ursula von der Leyen, for the European People’s party, said that the single market, the industry, is Commission competence – as is the defence industry. Investing in the defence industry is necessary. We need a strong Europe, we need military capabilities made in Europe – I want good jobs, and military capabilities made in Europe, she added.

The debate has moved on to foreign and security policy.

Ursula von der Leyen says that farmers and environmental groups have been invited to a dialogue.

“Like you, I think that the farmers are the solution also to fight climate change and to protect nature,” she said to the Green candidate.

“So we have to find a system, that together with them and the environmental groups that are working in this dialogue, that we are able to meet the climate goals also in the farming sector.”


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