Portrait of Ursula von der Leyen, the “Accountant of Europe”

Ursula von der Leyen, the "Accountant of Europe," navigates crises and American influence in her role as European Commission President. From a Brussels upbringing to high-level politics, her journey balances stringent budgets and social issues.
Portrait of Ursula von der Leyen, the "Accountant of Europe"

Ursula von der Leyen, known as the “Accountant of Europe,” has navigated her role as the European Commission President with influences from her American allies and a challenging global landscape. Born in Brussels and growing up in a political family, she distanced herself from Angela Merkel’s shadow to establish her leadership in Europe. Despite numerous crises, including the pandemic, climate issues, and geopolitical tensions, she has focused on military investments and stringent state budgets while balancing social issues. Her political journey, from a medical career and raising seven children to high-level European politics, reflects a complex and determined character, contending with both internal European dynamics and external pressures.

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Ursula, Miss Diapers turned EU accountant to escape Angela. Her home was the Union. Born in Brussels, daughter of a European government commissioner. Married to a nobleman, with 7 children, she distanced herself from the imposing figure of the Chancellor only to end up under the Americans’ command.

by Pino Corrias

Another lap after the electoral pit stop, on the same track where we run restlessly. So, best wishes to the “Accountant of Europe,” Miss Ursula von der Leyen, according to the latest jab from Romano Prodi, who was on the same European Commission podium for five years: “In my time, we still deliberated with the heads of state about which commissioners to choose. Today, Ursula acts as the accountant for others’ decisions.” That is, she lines up others’ decisions, starting with NATO’s military ones. And also the indecisions, given the identity crisis her friend Giorgia from Colle Oppio is facing, publicly lamenting not being invited to the “celebrity masquerade ball,” as the old De André sang, where Premier Meloni couldn’t wait to ask the Nation’s mirror and all of Europe: “Am I more beautiful, or is the statue of Pietà?”

Ursula, known as the “golden helmet” for her perm, but also the “lead helmet” for her predisposition to rearm Europe, lets the thread of negotiations, spite, and grudges of these hours run. She garners the majority of Catholics, socialists, and liberals who, incidentally, won the elections. She returns to the rigor of state budgets, considering secondary the social fissures that have worsened in recent years. She promises massive investments in common defense. And, of course, she prays, given her religious devotion, while preparing the sandbags around Europe’s windows, not only to welcome what will remain of Ukraine but also to counter the ultra-sovereign right-wing Velociraptors, including little fascists and neo-Nazis, who want to shatter those windows, as in the famous night of 1938, leading to the dissolution of the “Europe of multinationals,” to replace it with a new identity and anti-globalist disorder, which would then fuel nationalism’s embers, always ending in mutual massacres.

In the past five years, Ursula navigated with strictly American fuel, pursued by the chasms opened by the global pandemic, climate issues, the recurring short circuit of energy sources exacerbated by the sanctions war against Russia, Islamic terrorism, migrations that overwhelm entire governments, NATO’s geopolitical superpowers, and Putin’s military forces, which ended the long peace in Europe with the invasion of Ukraine, except for ex-Yugoslavia. Not to mention the new war, erupted after Hamas’s thugs raided Israel, with massacres in Gaza Strip that are reigniting the entire Middle East.

We have emerged from the pandemic. We are still trying to heal the economy with the monumental Next Generation EU vaccine, injecting 750 billion euros into the empty coffers of European investments. As for the climate, it is still unclear whether the Green Deal projects will be implemented—zero emissions by 2050—or if we will end up poisoning each other due to the ongoing conflicts between industry, agriculture, energy sources, consumption, Chinese competition, and so on.

As for real wars, they are not even worth mentioning. Ursula von der Leyen’s Europe hasn’t played a part, merely picking up the pieces thrown by the fronts led by the USA and the UK on one side, Russia and China on the other, the main players in this “Third World War in fragments,” where besides the dead, military industry profits and government hysteria multiply. Meanwhile, words like “negotiation” and “peace” have yet to appear, although they are fundamental to Europe and its founders’ ink.

However, her high-class smile has appeared in every frame for five straight years, only faltering once when Erdogan, the Turk, left her without a chair at a summit, as if she had come to dust the place. Instead of at least kicking the caliph in the shins, she squeaked: “I was surprised, but I focused on the substance of the meeting.”

Ursula was, after all, well-mannered, born in the family villa on October 8, 1958. Her father, Ernst Albrecht, a politician and entrepreneur, was a European Commissioner. She grew up in Brussels until she was 13. At home, she spoke German, and outside, English and French. She said: “I was European before I knew I was German.” When her father became CDU president of Lower Saxony, the family moved back to Hanover. Excellent education, a shadow-free adolescence. The only real setback was at twenty when the police suspected the Baader-Meinhof terrorists wanted to kidnap her. As a precaution, her father sent her to study at the London School of Economics. But three years later, back home, she chose to restart with Medicine, eventually graduating in Gynecology in 1987. Meanwhile, she married a scion of the noble von der Leyen family. She followed her husband to California, where she taught Medicine at Stanford University for six years and became a super mom, having seven children.

Politics came later, cultivated in Angela Merkel’s shadow. After a couple of regional positions, she became Minister of Social Affairs in 2005, focusing on protective networks for German families, daycare, parental leave, and maternity subsidies. The newspapers called her “Miss Diaper.” But this was an underestimation. As Labor Minister, she clashed with industrial giants and powerful metalworkers’ unions. As Defense Minister, she put generals in line, sparred with the Russians when Putin annexed Crimea in 2014, igniting the fires of the future war in Ukraine. She gained support and advanced her career to become Merkel’s designated heir. But because of too much shadow at home, her competitors invented her candidacy in Brussels.

Once again, her pearl necklace is the point of mediation in Europe’s many labyrinths. To celebrate her new appointment, she extolled peace and democracy, saying, “We must take care of them” because they are precious and in danger. Then she endorsed that same danger by embracing Ukrainian leader Zelensky’s symbols, promising more billions to war trenches and more weapons for our arsenals, “perhaps with a new Recovery,” this time called Dead Generation EU. An excellent idea for another lap until we reach the common abyss.

Il Fatto Quotidiano, June 30, 2024


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