Ursula von der Leyen

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Biography of Ursula von der Leyen, German politician, graduated in Medicine and elected President of the European Commission, in 2019.

Ursula von der Leyen was Minister for “Senior Citizens, Women and Youth” in Germany from 2005 to 2009.

Subsequently, she was appointed Minister of “Labor and Social Affairs” from 2009 to 2013.

From 2013 to 2019, Ursula von der Leyen served as the Minister of “Defense” of Germany.

Childhood and education of Ursula von de Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen was born in Brussels (Belgium) on October 8, 1958 and spent the first 14 years of her life there. Maiden Name: Ursula Albrecht.

Her father Ernst Albrecht was a prominent politician in Germany, and was one of the first senior officials of the European Union in 1958.

Ursula Father
Ernst Albrecht, father of Ursula von der Leyen. Credit: Wikipedia Commons. Federal Archive of Germany.

Later, Ernst Albrecht became minister-president of the federal state of Lower Saxony, and was director-general of the European Commission since 1969.

Ursula’s mother is of German and American descent.

These circumstances favored that Ursula von der Leyen received education in German, English and French. She speaks these three languages ​​with perfect fluency.

As a child, she was enrolled in the “European School“, the institution where several children of community officials study in Brussels.

Ursula von der Leyen moved her home to Hannover in 1971, when her father entered politics. In 1976 Ernst Albrecht was appointed Minister President of the State of Lower Saxony.

Ursula von der Leyen’s brother is businessman Hans Albrecht.

University studies of Ursula von der Leyen

In 1977 Ursula von der Leyen began studies in Economics at the “University of Göttingen“.

The University of Göttingen is the largest and oldest university in the Lower Saxony region.

An interesting feature of this study center is the university network that it has established with other research institutions in the city, such as the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, the five Max Planck Institutes, the German Aerospace Center and the German Primate Center.

After a while. Ursula von de Leyen moved to Münster, a city in western Germany. It is known for the Saint Paul’s Cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century and combines Gothic and Romanesque architecture.

Unfortunately, in those years the German terrorist group “Red Army” was committing assassinations against prominent politicians. To prevent a misfortune, in 1977 her father sent her to London to protect her from a possible attack.

There she studied at the “School of Economics and Political Science” under a false name, Rose Ladson, and was protected by Scotland Yard.

In 1980, Ursula von der Leyen decided to change her university career; She returned to Germany and began studying Medicine at the “Hannover Medical School“, which is among the highest performing universities in Germany.

After graduating as a doctor from the Hanover Medical School in 1987, Ursula decided to specialize in “women’s health“.

Marriage and family of Ursula von der Leyen

In 1986, Dr. Ursula Albrecht married her fellow student, Heiko von der Leyen, who belongs to an aristocratic family of silk industrialists. From then on, her name began to be Ursula von der Leyen.

Heiko von der Leyen is a professor of medicine and executive director of a medical engineering company.

Ursula and Heiko von der Leyen met in the Göttingen University Choir. They have seven Children: David (1987), Sophie (1989), Donata (1992), the twins Victoria and Johanna (1994), Egmont (1998) and Gracia (1999).

Ursula family
Ursula was a housewife during the 1990s. Credit: El Español newspaper. Article by Salvador Martínez.

Heiko von der Leyen was transferred to Stanford University School of Medicine. The family lived for four years in that California city.

From 1988 to 1992, Ursula worked as an assistant physician at the Women’s Clinic of the Hannover Medical School. After completing her graduate studies, she graduated as a Doctor of Medicine in 1991.

From 1992 to 1996, after the twins were born, Ursula von der Leyen devoted herself exclusively to caring for her family, while her husband was a faculty member at Stanford University.

Later, when they were able to return to Germany, the family lived on a farm near Hannover, until 2014.

Ursula von del Leyen’s entry into national politics

In the late 1990s, Ursula von der Leyen saw fit to get involved in local politics in Hannover.

Ursula von der Leyen had joined the “Christian Democratic Union” (CDU) in 1990.

From 1998 to 2002, Ursula von der Leyen was a member of the “Department of Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Research” of the Health System, at the Medical College of Hannover.

Due to her extraordinary personal qualities and excellent family contacts, she quickly acquired responsibilities, until she was appointed Minister of the Lower Saxony government cabinet in 2003.

Ursula von der Leyen was part of a group organized by Angela Merkel, with the aim of preparing a series of alternatives for the reform of the social system in Germany.

Ursula 2005
Campaign poster for Ursula von der Leyen in 2005. Credit: Wikipedia Commons. Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

In 2005, Ursula left the local government and became Minister of “Seniors, Women and Youth” of the German federal government.

From this ministry, she introduced a law that allocated € 4.3 billion to the creation of new structures for childcare.

She also introduced a paid parental leave, following the Scandinavian model, which grants two months for parents who make use of this benefit.

She also supported the initiative to block child pornography on the Internet, creating a basic infrastructure to control web pages deemed illegal by the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation.

In the post-2009 negotiations, the CDU / CSU party coalition was formed. Ursula von de Leyen was appointed Minister of “Labor and Social Affairs“.

During her tenure, Ursula helped Angela Merkel to bring the CDU to a central position in German politics.

Ursula von der Leyen supported the increase in the number of kindergartens, the introduction of a quota for women in company management positions, same-sex marriage and a minimum wage across the country.

Ursula von der Leyen launched an unsuccessful campaign to establish a statutory quota for female participation on the supervisory boards of German companies.

It was requested that in the year 2018 on the board of directors of the companies there be at least 20% women. In 2023, it should be 40%.

She also supported the easing of entry restrictions on foreign workers, to combat the shortage of skilled workers in Germany.

In 2013, it reached an agreement with the Philippine government to facilitate the insertion of Filipino health professionals in Germany.

Ursula Merkel
Ursula von der Leyen and Angela Merkel. Credit: web deutschland.de

In 2013, Ursula von der Leyen assumed the post of “Defense” minister. She was the first woman to be appointed Minister of Defense in Germany.

Ursula von der Leyen launched a € 100 million program to create childcare for the soldiers’ children.

In addition, she managed to introduce regulations to match the movements of soldiers with school vacations.

From her pro-European perspective, she has argued that the creation of a European army would be a long-term objective.

In 2015, she and her colleagues in France and Poland revitalized the cooperation agreement between the three EU member states that make up the so-called Weimar Triangle.

Ursula von der Leyen served uninterruptedly as minister, in Angela Merkel’s cabinet, since she assumed office in 2005.

Ursula von der Leyen in international politics

Following the European Parliament elections in May 2019, the European Council began the process to nominate who would be presented to parliament to replace Jean Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission.

On July 2, 2019, von der Leyen was proposed by the European Council as a candidate for the post of President of the European Commission.

On July 16, she was elected to occupy that position. Her nomination was confirmed by the European Parliament. Ursula von der Leyen began her duties as head of the commission on November 1, 2019.

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