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EU parliament approves von der Leyen commission

The incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, won a comfortable majority of 461 to 157, as Members of the European Parliament voted to approve her line-up of top officials. The new team will take office on 1 December. AFP

Ursula is the first woman to serve in the EU's top executive post, and her team of 15 men and 11 women of a gender-balanced College of Commissioners.
Earlier, Eurones reports  that  von der Leyen argued, in her speech to MEPs said Europe can shape the global order in a speech that put climate change and migration at the heart of her strategy for the next five years.

Von der Leyen branded climate change an "existential challenge" for Europe and the world, and said that Europe "had the duty to act and the power to lead."

“It will need massive investment. It will require public and private investment. The European Union will mainstream climate financing throughout its budget,” she said.

Europe "can be the shapers of a better global order," she said. "This is Europe's vocation, and it is what European citizens want."

Migration

Von der Leyen also spoke about the deaths of 39 people in the back of a lorry in Essex, in the UK, last month, as they tried to cross from Europe into Britain.

"It is tragedy that a mother in Vietnam receives a message from her daughter in Europe saying that she does not have room to breathe," she said. "This should never, ever happen."

She said that the issue of migration was one that had "divided us, but we should step forward."

"Europe will always provide shelter for those who are in need of international protection, [and] it is in our interest that those who stay are integrated to our society, but we also have to ensure that those who have no right to stay return home."

"Migration will stay with us, and therefore I think a Europe that is so proud of its values and its rule of law has to come up with an answer that is both humane and effective."

Brexit

Finally, Von der Leyen turned to Brexit, saying that while she "would always be a Remainer", she respected the decision of the British people to leave the European Union.

She said that ties between the UK and Europe would continue to be strong.

Von der Leyen said that her team of commissioners was just one woman away from gender balance, and represented individuals from different cultures, countries and backgrounds.

She also talked about the transatlantic alliance between the EU and U.S. at a time when ties have been strained under the presidency of Donald Trump.

"We have issues - without any doubt - but our ties have lasted the test of time," she said.

The new European Commission president has had a rocky road to Wednesday's vote.

She was only narrowly confirmed in the European Parliament herself, and had to replace three of her commissioner picks after they were rejected by MEPs.

At 1.30 pm CET von Leyen and European Parliament David Sassoli are due to give a press conference.

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