Two days before the vote, the path to the presidency of the European Investment Bank (EIB) is becoming clearer for the Spanish candidate, the first vice president of the Government, Nadia Calviño. The Minister of Economy is also emerging as the option with the most support for the meeting that those responsible for Finance, the so-called Ecofin, will hold next Friday in Brussels after the movement made last week by the coordinator of the process on Thursday, the Belgian Finance Minister, Vincent van Peteghem, who sent a letter to his counterparts pointing out that Calviño was the candidate with the most options after having consulted all her counterparts from the rest of the EU States. In the letter, he announced his intention to put the Spanish woman’s name on the table unless he encountered many objections. He has not found them, several diplomatic sources and sources from various countries point out to the process.
The only known rejection is that of Italy. Minister Giancarlo Giorgietti responded to Van Peteghem that he does not agree with this “no objection” procedure and that he supported his candidate, Daniele Franco. Furthermore, sources familiar with the content of the Italian letter point out that in that document the politician of the Lega, the party led by the ultra Matteo Salvini, would have reproached him for not having been consulted with his country. However, it would not be the only candidacy that remains despite the Belgian movement, since none of the other three alternatives have announced that they have taken a step back either: the two who are already vice presidents of the entity, the Polish Teresa Czerwinska and the Swede Thomas Östros, and, above all, the other great favorite, the Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager, vice president of the European Commission, although temporarily removed from the position because she is a candidate for the other position.
However, France has not expressed any rejection. Paris seems at this moment to be the decisive country to, at least, make Calviño the only viable candidate as it is one of the three largest shareholders of the bank along with Germany and Italy, all three with 18.8%. By not expressing their reservations in a “no objection” procedure, their tacit support for the Spanish company can be deduced, therefore adding their capital to that of Spain (11%), Portugal (0.9%) and Germany would give a result of 49. 5%. However, neither the French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, nor the President, Emmanuel Macron, comment anything publicly on the matter.
The election of the president of the EIB requires a double qualified majority: of capital (68%) and of votes from States/shareholders (18). Therefore, if French support for Calviño is confirmed, his candidacy will be the only viable one and would explain the step taken by Van Peteghem, something that has caused the discontent of the other candidates and several countries, although they have not sent a letter to the Belgian.
Although the Spanish company already seems to be considering the presidency of the main public bank of the European institutions, we have to wait until Friday to confirm that result. In this selection, coordinated by the country whose turn it is to preside over the EIB board of governors (the EU finance ministers), there is no pre-established procedure with fixed rules. From the beginning, things have been liquid. For example, it cannot be said that there was a deadline for submitting applications. The only thing clear, for now, is that on December 31 the term of the current president, the German Werner Hoyer, ends.
This absence of clear references means that it cannot be ruled out that on Friday, after Van Peteghem’s presentation, there will be countries that are dissatisfied with what the Belgian proposes. States with candidates, such as Italy, Poland, Denmark or Sweden, could do so.
If the next president of the EIB is finally elected next Friday, it will end a process that has lasted for almost four months and that, from the first moment, has become a struggle between Calviño and the Danish Vestager, both with long experience in Brussels: one, the Spanish one, who became general director of Budgets of the European Commission before joining the Spanish Government and the other who has been commissioner of the powerful Competition portfolio of the community Executive for nine years.
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