The battle for the presidency of the European Investment Bank (EIB) is definitely shaping up to be a race between the Spanish candidate, Nadia Calviño, and the Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager, in which the economic vice-president of the Central Government starts with a slight advantage ("va in the pole position", say community sources), but not enough to proclaim itself the winner, and least of all today, playing at home, in Santiago de Compostela, where the Spanish presidency has gathered the European Ministers of Economy.
"It's important not to force the process to reach a consensus candidate," and "I don't think we're ready for that right now," said Belgian minister Vincent Van Peteghem, who holds the rotating presidency of the EIB this semester. , and rules out that it is possible to close the case today, as was initially proposed. All in all, sources from the Spanish Government declare themselves "cautiously optimistic" about Calviño's options.
The vice president clarified that she would not use her position as host to promote herself. "I do not intend to defend my candidacy with the ministers, since I will preside over the meetings and welcome the ministers to my land", he said, implicitly assuming the internal criticism that Spain pressed for a decision precisely in Santiago.
There are three other candidates (Polish Teresa Czerwińska, Italian Daniele Franco and Swedish Thomas Östros), and all but the latter are in Santiago with their respective national delegations to lobby. No one has done it as visibly as Vestager, who stood in the front row of the spotlight during the visit of Calviño and his colleagues to the cathedral in Santiago, and sat in the press room yesterday to speak relaxed about his candidacy. She was also seen knitting, one of her favorite hobbies, in the delegate area, waiting for a meeting. Until the irruption of the Spanish, the Danish, one of the most recognizable figures of the European Commission, was profiled as the favorite.
The high number of candidates and the internal divisions (between north and south, right and left, east and west, large countries versus small...) mean that, as of now, none meets the necessary conditions to be elected: the support of at least 18 of the bank's 27 shareholders and votes that add up to 68% of its capital. Although far from this figure, Calviño, who the French Government said yesterday has "all the necessary skills" for the position, could be closer to fulfilling the second criterion than Vestager, who, on the other hand, has the support from more countries.
There are more factors at play. It is presumed, for example, that the conservative Government of Greece prefers the Danish liberal over the Spanish socialist, with ideology weighing heavily on the traditional geographical factor. Few countries have expressed their preferences clearly and cleanly (Portugal yes, in favor of Spain), but it cannot be ruled out that some will do so today after the informal debate they will hold during their working breakfast.
Belgium, as acting president of the EIB, could propose today that one of the candidates with the least support withdraw from the race with the aim of facilitating the agreement. Italy has presented a low political profile and hopes to benefit from this circumstance in the event of a blockade. Founded in 1958 in Luxembourg, the EIB is called upon to play a greater role in financing the investments needed for the green transition and its presidency has become a coveted position.
This same week the board of governors of the European Central Bank decided to propose the German Claudia Buch as president of the Single Mechanism for Banking Supervision, against the criteria of the European Parliament, which preferred Margarita Delgado. On this issue, President Christine Lagarde defended the process, praised the "elegance" with which the Spaniard made the decision and downplayed the possibility of a clash with the Eurochamber.