New EU chief nominee says Brexit could be delayed - again

Ursula von der Leyen signals she will not reopen Brexit talks

"I welcome the commitments, given by Mrs Von der Leyen, to complete and strengthen the Capital Markets Union, but for Irish consumers, now facing sky-high interest rates and spiralling insurance premiums, this is a very theoretical response", he said. We did not hear any concrete proposal, be it on rule of law or on climate.

The powerful European Commission presidency, which overseas trade negotiations, antitrust rulings and broad policy for 500 million Europeans, was offered to von der Leyen on July 2 by EU leaders.

However, a fragmented European Parliament following the May election means she has a harder task in being nominated so losing the Greens, who have 74 of the 751 seats, makes support from the centre-left crucial.

The nominee to become the next EU commission chief assured the Remainer MEPs in the Greens-European Free Alliance bloc that "the door is open, because we want you in" in the event of revoking Article 50 at the last minute.

"Ursula von der Leyen evaded our questions on the rule of law and democracy in Europe".

"It is simply unacceptable that the candidate for the top job in the European Commission - the role that will shape the direction of policy in the EU for the next five years - was not prepared to answer this question". Von der Leyen promised to be tougher on the rule of law than the outgoing Commission and to reform the EU's failed asylum system - both areas where liberal, wealthy western Europe and the post-communist east differ bitterly.

"We insist that the voters deserve a democratic and transparent process when it comes to the choice of Commission President".

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Germany's defence minister, who was nominated to become the next president of the European Commission in July, made the comments at a European Parliament hearing ahead of a vote on her confirmation next week. "The lead candidate process has not been respected which is a betrayal of the European electorate". Socialist leader Iratxe Garcia Perez said her group put specific policy demands to von der Leyen on fighting climate change, migration and gender equality. "We saw little desire to tackle tax avoidance and fraud by big corporations".

Addressing the groups, she called for the expansion of the borderless Schengen travel area, the enlargement of the Eurozone and closer military cooperation.

MEPs will cast their ballots next week in a secret vote, meaning more MEPs could feel inclined to break party political lines, and reject von der Leyen.

The German also dealt a significant blow to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt by vowing to defend the controversial Northern Ireland backstop.

She said the Irish border "backstop" - which aims to avoid border controls between European Union member Ireland and British-governed Northern Ireland after Brexit - was "precious, important and has to be defended" in any Brexit deal.

Many UK MPs objected to the clause, fearing it would be used to permanently trap the UK in the EU customs union, preventing the country from striking its own trade deals.

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