White smoke. The first vice president, Nadia Calviño, has achieved enough support to take over the presidency of the European Investment Bank (EIB) after almost four months of fighting in which the big countries, including France, have made her wait longer than she expected. I had initially planned. The EU Economy Ministers have given it sufficient support this Friday (18 member states representing 68% of the capital of the public bank), although formal ratification will have to wait.
The Belgian Minister of Finance, Peter Van Peteghem, who is responsible for piloting the process as rotating president of the EIB governors, has been in charge of announcing the “consensus” around Calviño’s candidacy. Now the institution’s Board of Governors will have to ratify the decision. The process had been choked by the attendance of five candidates, including the Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, who was Calviño’s main rival, so achieving a sufficient majority has been complicated.
Finally, the Belgian minister decided to make a move and put Calviño’s name on the table given that she was the only candidate capable of achieving sufficient support as a result of the consultations she had carried out privately with the 27. Publicly only Germany and Portugal had announced its support for the Spanish, but in the Government they assumed that it would garner a sufficient majority by having France, whose support was essential as the second contributor to the EIB, although it had not revealed its cards.
For her part, Vestager has withdrawn her candidacy, as announced through the social network X (formerly Twitter). The Dane, who had no chance of being elected, will now resume her duties in the European Commission, which she suspended during her career at the EIB.
Pedro Sánchez has celebrated the decision as “magnificent news for Europe and a source of pride for Spain” and has assured that it is “an election that reinforces Spain’s presence and influence in international organizations.”
“It is a great honor and pride that our country presides over the European Investment Bank for the first time; a position of great importance, which reflects the intense work of these years to reinforce the influence, respect and leadership of Spain in the international arena,” said Calviño in statements to journalists after having achieved the support of his colleagues. The formal ratification process now begins with the intention that the economic vice president replace the current president, Werner Hoyer, as of January 1, 2024.
In responses to journalists’ questions, the economic vice president has rejected that her victory this Friday will interfere in the competition to host the European Authority to Combat Money Laundering, which is attended by Madrid, as well as Paris and Rome. “Each of the election processes are independent, as you know. From the first moment, the Government of Spain has been committed to Madrid’s candidacy,” said Calviño.
Calviño will be the first Spaniard and the first woman to take the reins of the main European public bank, which was founded in 1958. The EIB is, however, far removed from decision-making in the community capital. With a subscribed capital of 248.8 billion euros, it is the financial arm of the EU to promote investments on six axes: climate and environment, development, innovation and skills, small businesses, infrastructure and cohesion. Although activities related to Ukraine date back to 2007, with the war it has intensified its support, which exceeds 1.5 billion euros, and will continue to do so in reconstruction.
“In addition to its important role in financing investments in the EU, financial support to Ukraine and investments in the rest of the world, the EIB will have an important role in managing part of the Next Generation EU loans,” the Ministry notes. of Economy in a statement in which it points to the importance of the institution to “make public and private investments in Europe” as well as to “develop new technologies and accelerate the double green and digital transition.”
Calviño’s election to the EIB has a direct consequence on the newly formed coalition government. “I will miss you a lot,” Sánchez expressed in his tweet, who will have to remodel the economic area, in which Calviño has been the protagonist since 2018 in the main clashes with Unidas Podemos and, in this short term, also with the second vice presidency, Yolanda. Díaz, this time for unemployment benefits.
Sánchez is studying his options and does not rule out pursuing an independent profile similar to that of Calviño, who before entering politics as a member of the Government held a technical position in Brussels, where he has been one of the main references of the Spanish Executive in the last five years. The president, however, does not intend to take over immediately, reports Esther Palomera.