Forbes cited von der Leyen’s “resolute support for Ukraine and her leadership in tackling the coronavirus pandemic in Europe” as the reason for this.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), has been named the “most powerful woman in the world” by Forbes magazine for the second time in a row. She beat the head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, and US Vice President Kamala Harris to secure first place.
Von der Leyen rose in the annual list from eighth place in 2021 to first place in 2022. Forbes recognized her “strong and resolute support for Ukraine, as well as her continued leadership in managing the coronavirus pandemic in Europe”. Her support for Ukraine was also mentioned this year, with the magazine calling her “one of the West’s staunchest supporters of Ukraine amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion”.
Unlike in 2022, von der Leyen did not receive her own article this year. Forbes merely named her at the top of the list on Wednesday and updated her biography.
Von der Leyen was German Defense Minister under Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) from 2013 to 2019. In December 2019, she became the first woman to head the European Commission, the EU’s executive body. While she was praised by Forbes for spearheading a €750 billion law to combat the coronavirus in 2020, she was criticized by European conservatives for withholding some of this money from Hungary and Poland because they refused to take in migrants or implement reforms demanded by Brussels.
When the war in Ukraine began in February 2022, von der Leyen quickly became one of Kiev’s loudest advocates on the international stage. Under her leadership, the European Commission imposed almost a dozen sanctions packages against Moscow and imposed an embargo on Russian energy imports, to the detriment of many EU economies.
Von der Leyen has promised Ukraine EU membership despite several member states expressing concerns about Kiev’s dire public finances, the ongoing armed conflict with Russia and rampant corruption. She has also overseen the dramatic expansion of the “European Peace Facility”, a fund with the euphemistic name used by the Commission to finance foreign conflicts, particularly the conflict in Ukraine.
The head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, came second on the Forbes list, while US Vice President Kamala Harris came third. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni – another staunch supporter of Kiev – and pop star Taylor Swift took fourth and fifth place.