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The EU ushers in its new heads of commission and council

BRUSSELS (AP) — New leaders took over Sunday at the top of the European Union’s executive and council, taking their positions at a turbulent time for the bloc with the looming British departure and other pressing issues.

Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen officially replaced Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, two days after a handover ceremony, becoming the first woman in the job. Belgium’s Charles Michel succeeded Donald Tusk as EU Council president and chair the summits of EU leaders.

Von der Leyen and Michel marked the day in Brussels with events for the 10th anniversary of the Lisbon Treaty in the House of European History. European Parliament President David Sassoli hosted the ceremony, welcoming the new leaders — all the while calling on them to deliver on promises made to its 508 million citizens, saying “it is now time to act.”

“We need to turn the promises of the past few months into results that improve people's lives,” Sassoli said. “From the fight against climate change to tackling the rise in the cost of living, Europeans want to see real action.”

Momentum is building to face the challenge of climate change and von der Leyen has said it will be a top priority for her. The future of how the British Brexit decision will play out should become more clear after a new election on Dec. 12.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to secure a majority in the election so he can push through the Brexit divorce deal he negotiated in October with the EU. Under the terms of that deal, the U.K. would leave the EU on Jan. 31 but remain part of the EU’s single market, and bound by the bloc’s rules, until the end of 2020.

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