Ursula von der Leyen—President of the Commission

Politician, scientist, mom and… grandmother. The latter while Ursula von der Leyen was actually at the helm of the European Commission; in fact, she acquired no fewer than three grandchildren during her term as the institution’s first woman President. Some doubted her abilities, but they were proved wrong when the EU had to deal with a series of unprecedented global crises: the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the energy crisis. She was blamed for delays in rolling out the COVID19 vaccines and for mishandling the crisis. Some have described her as cold and distant. But then, how much… Mediterranean temperament and brio can any German woman be expected to be hiding? On the other hand, she was denounced for her handling of the situation in the wake of the Hamas attack on Israel, a war that continues to divide the 27 member states, with differences that still run deep. But if nothing else, six months before the European elections, Ursula von der Leyen has led and continues to lead a Europe that has shown determination and unity under her Commission presidency, despite difficulties that are not yet over and could be followed by who knows what. She is still playing her cards close to her chest with regard to a possible second term. If she does put herself forward as a candidate, the odds would currently seem to be on her side.

Margrethe Vestager—Executive Vice-President of the Commission

The Iron Commissioner, the tall slender Dane whose very name had corporate colossuses quaking in their boots, has finally bent. Amazon’s vindication by the EU court pulled the rug out from under the feet of the Executive Vice President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Competition. She then sought to embark on a new career path with her candidacy for head of the European Investment Bank (EIB). However, her efforts came to naught due to Nadia Calvinio, who, having fallen at the final fence many times in the past, finally made it first over the line just before the end of the Spanish presidency, winning the position. As for Margrethe Vestager, she has returned to her post and is on the lookout for her next role.

Sophie in ‘t Veld—Euro MP

Always ready to do battle, assertive and controversial, she gives her all for the portfolios entrusted to her but has a tendency to trip herself up. Passionate about Greece—or, as some in the European Parliament would say, “obsessed”—it’s as though the first thing she thinks about when she wakes up and before she goes to sleep is what’s happening in Athens. As though she spends her life hunched over her “X” platform account waiting for a Greek “tweet” (to use the ancient term), which she then views in record time and responds to faster than Flash Gordon, translating, confirming and combusting in mere fractions of a second. But even when she’s in the right, she tends to end up in the wrong.

Oana Lungescu—Former NATO Spokesperson

As a former principal spokesperson for the North Atlantic Alliance, Romanian-born Oana Lungescu scored a number of NATO firsts. She was the first woman and the first journalist in the post, which she held from 2010 to 2023. Having worked for the BBC and elsewhere, she had covered major events and left her mark as a correspondent in Brussels. Speaking on Greek state television (ERT) in 2021 about her role as a female spokesperson and the challenges of the role, Oana Lungescu noted that “it is important to show that NATO is an organization for everyone, and that we are here to defend and protect men and women equally”.

Dana Spinant—Director General of the Commission’s Communication Directorate

Also from Romania and with a background in journalism, it was Spinant who, as European Commission Deputy Chief Spokesperson, was called upon with Chief Spokesperson Eric Mamer to manage situations and provide answers, even when there were none. What’s more, she had to do so in an era of multi-crises when every word could be misinterpreted. Knowing the press room from both sides of the rostrum, she was and remains a familiar face for journalists and is an expert at “spinning” the Commission’s work. Although she has now officially taken over as Head of the Commission’s Directorate for Communications, she continues to accompany President Ursula von der Leyen on trips, while her name often comes up in discussions about Romania’s nominee for the next Commission.