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Ursula von der Leyen lambasted over failure to rule out new hefty debt for EU

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has come under fire from Germany’s liberal FDP (Renew) party, part of the ruling coalition, for her openness to a new EU debt-financed investment programme.

In a Financial Times interview published on Tuesday, May 21, von der Leyen indicated her willingness to consider another round of jointly-issued EU debt, stressing that such a decision remains a “pure sovereign decision” by EU member states.

Her comments sparked a strong backlash in Germany, particularly from the FDP, who accused von der Leyen of betraying the fiscal principles of her own centre-right CDU (EPP) party. The CDU has historically cautioned against creating a “debt union” through joint EU liabilities for sovereign debt.

Michael Link, deputy head of the FDP group in the German Bundestag, said: “Ursula von der Leyen is breaking key promises from the CDU election programme with her statements and is making herself and the CDU untrustworthy.”

He added: “An economically successful Europe can reduce debt instead of piling up new mountains of debt for the next generation.”

In contrast, von der Leyen’s stance received approval from other political factions. Green EU lawmaker Rasmus Andresen praised her in SPIEGEL, saying: “The Greens welcome the fact that Ursula von der Leyen is opening up to joint European investments, and thus contradicting her own party.”

The debate arises as the EU’s €723.8 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility, the central component of the Next Generation EU post-pandemic support plan, is set to conclude in 2026.

While centre-right politicians have largely opposed new joint borrowing, support has come from centre-left figures like Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

The FDP, positioning itself as the primary representative of pro-business voters in Germany alongside the conservative CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU, faces significant political challenges.

Having secured 11.4 percent of the vote in the 2021 federal election, the FDP now struggles with only about 4 percent in recent national polls, both for federal and European elections. Meanwhile, the CDU/CSU maintains a strong lead with approximately 30 percent support.


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