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First woman nominated to lead European Commission

Europe’s leaders have agreed to give two of the top four EU jobs to women for the first time.

German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen has been nominated to replace Jean Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission.

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, who is French, was put forward for the presidency of the European Central Bank.

Von Der Leyen’s role must be confirmed by MEPs  in the European Parliament.

If elected, she would be the first woman to lead the European Commission.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was important that the EU finally achieved broad unity in nominating its future leaders.

Merkel said that ‘everyone had to move and did move’.

She told reporters: ‘It is important that we were able to decide with great unity today, and that it is important because it’s about our future ability to work.’

Lagarde will be the first woman to head the bloc’s central bank.

Outgoing European Council president Donald Tusk called the appointments ‘a perfect gender balance’.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel was also elected as the nominee for President of the European Council, replacing Tusk.

Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat welcomed the nominations on Twitter and reminded his EU colleagues of their 2017 visit to a  Maltese pastizzeria.

He tweeted: ‘When in need of a quick meal, Charles Michel will now be able to introduce Malta pastizzi to the EU Council.’