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European Commission's new president confirmed by MEPs

AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias

Ursula von der Leyen has been confirmed as the new European Commission President.

The European Parliament voted 383-327 with 22 abstentions on to approve Ms von der Leyen's nomination. The confirmation required an absolute majority of 374 votes.

She said: "I feel so honoured and I am overwhelmed. The task ahead of us humbles me."

The outgoing German defence minister was nominated by EU leaders as part over an overall appointments package, but still needed the backing of the parliament.

She was a last-minute candidate and many MEPs were angry none of their lead candidates were picked for the job.

She said: "My message to all of you is: let us work together constructively."

Ms Von der Leyen set out her political objectives on a greener, gender-equal Europe where the rule of law continues to hold sway earlier in the day.

Her approval was a key part in the package of top jobs that EU leaders agreed upon early this month.

Under the deal, the free-market liberal Renew Europe group got Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as European Council President and the Socialists won the top parliament job. France's Christine Lagarde was put forward as head of the European Central Bank.

Ms Von der Leyen told MEPs in Strasbourg that the gender element will be an essential part of her job.

"I will ensure full gender equality" in her team of 28 commissioners.

Pointing out that since its inception in 1958, less than 20% of commissioners had been women, she said: "We represent half of our population. We want our fair share."

Prior to the vote, some MEPs voiced their anger that they were sidelined in the appointment process. Their candidates for the commission post, arguably the most important of all the jobs, were all rejected by the EU leaders.

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