Spain is increasingly shining in the international sphere of financial institutions. The appointment of Nadia Calviño as president of the European Investment Bank – a position that she assumes tomorrow for a period of six years – represents another milestone for the country, which currently has its own voice in other important institutions. Luis de Guindos is vice president of the European Central Bank; José Manuel Campa is president of the European Banking Authority; Fernando Restoy presides over the Financial Stability Institute and the UN has just appointed Carme Artigas as a member of the advisory body on governance in Artificial Intelligence. In the political sphere, Josep Borrell’s role as high representative of Foreign Affairs of the EU is notable.
Although there have also been some failures, such as when in the fall, the deputy governor of the Bank of Spain, Margarita Delgado, lost the presidency of the ECB Supervisory Board to the German Claudia Buch, despite the fact that the Spanish woman was the one preferred by Parliament. European.
The country gains prestige, access to contacts and information and has more facilities to promote its interests
Far from the influence of powers such as France or Germany, Spain has historically competed for international influence against countries such as Italy, Poland or Portugal, due to size or proximity. From the past, the careers of Rodrigo Rato, as managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Jaime Caruana, as general director of the Bank for International Settlements and, outside the financial sphere, the multiple positions at European and international level held by Javier Solana, are notable. or Francesc Granell.
“The presence of Spaniards in these institutions gives prestige and reputation to the country, which has indirect effects on its economy,” comments Josep Soler, director of the Institut d’Estudis Financers (IEF). Esade professor Omar Rachedi, specialized in Economics and Finance, points in the same direction, highlighting the direct communication established between the international body and the local government, which pushes in favor of the interests of Spain by understanding first-hand the needs of the institution.
Furthermore, access to information and contacts during the term of office has a bearing on the future of the country’s economy, both at a formal and informal level, in both the public and private sectors. “The manager and the entire team that works with him accumulate experience that can be used in the next professional stages,” says Marc Arza, professor of international relations at Eada.
It is difficult to see the negative side of this phenomenon. It is true, Arza acknowledges, that promotion to international positions represents a loss of talent for the country. Likewise, Soler adds, the country runs the risk that the position in question performs its function poorly and its mandate tarnishes Spain’s global reputation. In 2007, Rato abruptly left the IMF and years later went to jail.
But the arguments in favor are many more and, for this reason, Professor Rachedi considers it key that each country has a clear strategy to place its professionals in these institutions. “You have to choose well the battles in which it is worth fighting for office. Sometimes it is better to choose a few and not 25 at the same time since not all institutions have the same influence,” says the professor.
On the other hand, Soler and Arza consider that chance plays a key role in the election of these positions and that in the European Union the game of balance between the different powers, regions and political families is also decisive. “That’s why there is usually little room for choice,” says Arza, who recalls that Spain has gained influence after the United Kingdom left the EU.
Beyond senior front-line positions, Professor Racahedi emphasizes the importance of having Spanish representation in positions that are in the second and third ranks. “Although it may not seem like it at first, these professionals often have much greater decision-making and executive power,” he warns.
In this sense, Rachedi highlights the career of Pilar Castrillo, head of economic and market analysis at the European Stability Mechanism and highlights the role of Oscar Arce as general director of Economy, Statistics and Research of the European Central Bank. “The role of Jesús Saurina, member of the Single Resolution Board, is also crucial.” The professor remembers that in 2017 this body had the last word when deciding that Banco Santander could absorb Banco Popular for the price of one euro.