The European Commission President has attracted criticism from across the bloc because of her failures to garner support for a Continent-wide response to the crisis. Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has publicly led the charge against Brussels bureaucrats, forcing Mrs von der Leyen to deliver a grovelling apology. But now Brussels insiders, previously supportive of the Commission chief, are turning against her.
“She is not at all up to the task,” an MEP told the Politico website.
“She made a solemn speech at the Parliament after the crisis broke out, and told us that it would be ‘goodwill and love’ that would save us from the coronavirus, and two days earlier she showed the world how to wash her hands.
“It’s like she is acting in ‘Little House on the Prairie’. Juncker had more of a political vision.”
Another MEP said Mrs von der Leyen was losing allies across the bloc even within the European People’s Party, her own political movement.
The source said: “Von der Leyen doesn’t have any ties with anyone.
“It was the same in Berlin. She is not particularly seeking contact. She doesn’t have any particular tie with the EPP. She is concerned about communication. If you speak badly about her then she will call you right away.”
The MEP added: “Yes, people do miss Selmayr. He was detested, but at least he knew how to impose himself. Now, we don’t really know what is going on.”
Mrs von der Leyen was named as a potential candidate to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker as Commission president last summer.
She was forced to delay her appointment after failing to win the support of the European Parliament for her team of EU commissioners.
The German eventually took charge of Brussels’ most senior role in December, the same month coronavirus rose to prominence in China.
But now she faces having to drag Europe out of its worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression.
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They described the German as “the wrong person, in the wrong role at the wrong time, and obvious to the task at hand, and how to arm-wrestle the member states”.
The former adviser added: “Her executive vice presidents are watching from the sidelines, licking their own egos, waiting for her to slip and fall.
“Von der Leyen is a prisoner in the convent, less Mother Superior than a novice nun questioning her European faith.”