The heads of state and government of the EU have submitted their nominations for the top job of the bloc, with a woman being proposed as head of the European Commission for the first time.

The surprising election of Federal Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen as successor to Jean-Claude Juncker came after the rejection of the leaders. The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, became the first woman to become head of the European Central Bank (ECB). The announcement follows days of difficult negotiations.

Overall, EU leaders have been tasked to nominate five people for top jobs. Belgian Liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel will succeed Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, while Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell will be nominated.

The fifth key role – the President of the European Parliament – will be elected on Wednesday. Possible candidates are the German MEP Manfred Weber and the Bulgarian socialist Sergei Stanishev. Most roles have to be ratified by the European Parliament.

The President of the European Commission heads the executive branch, sets the political agenda and controls a cabinet of commissioners.

Ms. von der Leyen, 60, was born in Brussels and moved to Germany with her family when she was 13 years old. She studied economics at the London LSE and medicine in Hannover, before she went into politics.

She has been a member of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) of Mrs Merkel since 2005. If Mrs. von der Leyen is confirmed in the role, it would be the first time in more than 60 years that a German receives the position.