Germany's Ursula von der Leyen nominated to lead EU Commission

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Reuters

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Ursula von der Leyen was backed by Angela Merkel but there was apparently resistance to her nomination within the German coalition

EU leaders have picked German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen for the top post of European Commission chief, after a marathon three-day summit.

The nomination of Ms Von der Leyen, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, came as a surprise after the main front-runners were rejected.

If approved by the European Parliament she will become the first female Commission president.

IMF head Christine Lagarde has been nominated for the head of the ECB.

The European Central Bank role is currently filled by Mario Draghi, who was widely credited with saving the euro during the eurozone debt crisis.

In all, EU leaders were tasked with nominating five people for the top jobs.

“We have agreed the whole package before the first session of the European Parliament,” said European Council President Donald Tusk.

He said Germany had abstained on Ms Von der Leyen’s nomination over coalition issues but said Mrs Merkel had backed her. He praised the “perfect gender balance”.

Belgian liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel is nominated to replace Mr Tusk while Spain’s Josep Borell is proposed as foreign policy chief.