Raw Politics in full: von der Leyen meets with MEPs, Italy closes migrant centre

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German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has been nominated as European Commission President, briefs the media.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has been nominated as European Commission President, briefs the media. -
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REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
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Von der Leyen meets with political groups

The European Parliament is facing a choice: to back Ursula von der Leyen for the European Commission presidency or to reject her and send EU leaders back to the drawing board.

Von der Leyen needs the backing of 376 MEPs in order to be approved. She made her rounds in Brussels on Tuesday, meeting with political groups to persuade them to vote for her in Strasbourg next week.

The Socialists and Democrats group focused their discussion on trade, rule of law, and Brexit.

She also faced the Greens, which has voiced its discontent over the European Council's decision to ignore the Spitzenkandidat process.

New leadership in Greece

Greece's newly elected Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held his first cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

In a sweeping victory on Sunday, Mitsotakis' centre-right New Democracy party replaced Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza party.

Mitsotakis promised tax cuts and economic growth to voters, as the country has grown tired of years of austerity. He is the son of Greece's former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis.

Salvini closes Italian migrant centre

Despite backlash from the UN, humanitarian organisations and officials abroad, Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini oversaw the closure of what was once Europe's largest migrant centre on Monday.

Mineo centre is located in Sicily. At its peak, it held more than 4,000 people.

The Italian government also approved military ships and air patrols to be used to keep migrants out of Italy.