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There has been speculation that Merkel and Macron’s “political initiative” makes Von der Leyen’s lack of leadership more obvious. The EU has been criticised for not acting collectively at a time when countries needed its support. Macron and Merkel have announced plans for a new Franco-German initiative, which is thought to include public health, economic recovery and green transitioning.
At the beginning of the crisis, Von der Leyen apologised to Italy for failing to support it when it was being badly affected by coronavirus.
The EU president made an error when she dismissed corona bonds, which are a financial mechanism to ease economic recovery, sparked an outcry in Italy.
An announcement of an EU strategy for easing the lockdown measures across Europe were quickly cancelled following an outcry from countries.
Brussels reporter, Jorge Valero, tweeted: “Merkel-Macron’s stealing of political initiative by presenting their ideas 4 EU recovery plan ahead of
@vonderleyen’s will only deepen the feeling her Commission is Council secretariat- despite what they may think, having a weak EU exec will weaken us all 4 big issues (US, China)
“On the other hand, VDL’s delays to release her proposal have shown her difficulties to build consensus inside her Comm, w member states & MEPs, so Macron-Merkel have to jump in. They picked her for a reason, but when you face such exceptional times you need strong leadership.”
A former senior European official said to Politico: ““Her major strength in this crisis has been her knowledge of Europe, her multilingual and medical skills.
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“But she’s much too wary of not bypassing EU competence, and remaining in the legal framework.
“Jacques Delors didn’t hesitate to confront the Council when it was needed, and [Mario] Draghi did the same with the ECB
European Parliament member Guy Verhofstadt accused Von der Leyen of being too slow in announcing an EU plan on tackling the pandemic.
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He said: “My question is: What is the European Commission waiting for?
“You have the right of initiative; take your responsibility and come forward.
“It’s a historical moment for the European Commission.”
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