Hans-Olaf Henkel, who left the European Parliament last year, offered his candid assessment as a compatriot Von der leyen he strove to demonstrate unity against a backdrop of disputes. European Union finance ministers agreed last night on an initial 500 billion euro package of measures to combat the economic consequences of the world coronavirus pandemic that now needs to be ratified by EU27 leaders. However, the French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire he suggested problems later when he suggested that the scheme would be financed by joint debt, a conceptual anathema for northern countries such as Germany and the Netherlands.
The situation adds to the baptism of fire by former German Defense Minister von der Leyen, who was forced to postpone her starting date from November 1 to December 1, before saying goodbye to the United Kingdom – the second largest contributor EU net – by the end of the month.
Henkel, who had previously expressed reservations about von der Leyen's credentials for the bloc's first position last year, told Express.co.uk: "Frankly, I still think she will do a better job than Manfred Weber, who was the person who thought he had it all wrapped up.
"I think we should thank Mr. Macron for speaking up and saying what everyone else thought, but he didn't dare say, that this guy was not in that position."
"But her credentials are very scarce – she left the German defense in ruins, in ruins."
Referring to Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, he added: "Her successor is the leader of the Christian Democratic Union, and she has announced that she will step down.
"She had all kinds of things to do when she took office, so it is very obvious that von der Leyen did not do a good job as defense minister.
SEE MORE INFORMATION: Coronavirus advancement: COVID-19 test results in one hour
"But Europe is now standing together. And this is being driven by a wave of compassion across our Union.
"This solidarity is contagious – and it is at the heart of our Union.
"Thanks to that impulse, the real Europe is back. The one that works together to do what none of us could do alone.
"The EU is now doing it and is working every day to save as many lives as we can, protect livelihoods and boost our economies."
The agreement released yesterday avoids an explicit mention of the jointly issued debt, which was anathema to the Dutch, but Le Maire said it was there implicitly.
He told reporters that EU member states have agreed to mobilize a total of one trillion euros ($ 1.09 trillion).
Half of the amount would be made available in the short term and the rest would come from a new joint recovery fund, which France had established as a precondition for the approval of the general package.
Significantly, he added: "Who is going to increase the debt? There is still a lot of uncertainty to be determined.
"But I am firmly convinced that the fund will see the light of day and that there will be debts raised together in a way that has yet to be determined."