Ursula Von der Leyen, Merkel’s ex-runner-up on the road to emancipation

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STORY – For the next six months, with the German presidency of the EU, the tandem of the two compatriots will be more than ever at work.

Ursula von der Leyen and Angela Merkel, in Berlin, in January.
Ursula von der Leyen and Angela Merkel, in Berlin, in January. Murat Kula / Anadolu Agency via AFP

Like two accomplices, Ursula von der Leyen and Angela Merkel communicate regularly by text. When they call each other, the first takes the opportunity to glean gossip on the microcosm of the CDU. From her small apartment juxtaposed with her Berlaymont office, Berlin’s political life is lacking for the former minister who became president of the Commission. The Chancellor, she inquires about the balance of power in Brussels. And rarely lets himself be diverted from his task. At a European Council last April, she warned the President of the Commission, who imagined that she would present the bloc’s recovery plan in just two weeks. “Are you sure, Ursula?” If I had to come up with the same plan for German industry alone, I would need more than a fortnight. Von der Leyen will listen to him.

For the next six months, the tandem of the two compatriots will be more than ever on the move. A formidable asset for women, it is argued as well in Brussels as in Berlin. “We have a very large

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