Skip to content

Two Finns among top contenders for European Central Bank presidency

EU leaders are to pick a new bank chief at Sunday's meeting, along with other powerful posts.

Erkki Liikanen and Olli Rehn at a Bank of Finland seminar in Helsinki in March. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP
Yle News

As Finland takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union, Prime Minister Antti Rinne represents the country at a special meeting of the Council in Brussels on Sunday evening.

The heads of state or government will continue their talks on nominations for the EU's top posts.

Those talks began in May and continued at the June Euro Summit held in the Belgian capital 10 days ago, but failed to reach any decisions. That was Rinne's first EU meeting as premier, having been sworn in two weeks earlier.

Sunday's meeting begins at 7pm Finnish time and is expected to last far into the evening. EU leaders may also hold a breakfast meeting on Monday.

EU leaders are to choose a European Commission President candidate, European Council President, Foreign Affairs representative and European Central Bank (ECB) president. They are all to take office this year.

All nominees for the five-year posts must gather the backing of least 21 of the 28 EU leaders as well as a majority in the European Parliament, which is scheduled to meet on Tuesday.

Liikanen, Rehn among top candidates

Finland has been pushing the names of two former European Commissioners, Olli Rehn and Erkki Liikanen, as candidates for the Central Bank job.

Rehn, 57, now Governor of the Bank of Finland, was previously European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and a Finnish Centre Party economic affairs minister.

Liikanen, 68, formerly EU Budget Commissioner, has also served as Bank of Finland Governor and as finance minister representing Rinne's Social Democratic Party. Earlier this year, a Reuters poll suggested that Liikanen was the most likely compromise candidate for the ECB presidency.

France and Germany have also put forth strong candidates for the position, François Villeroy de Galhau and Jens Weidmann. However France has recently held the post, and if one of those countries nabs the plum post of European Commission President, they would be unlikely to also get the banking job. That would improve the chances of the Finnish candidates.

Meanwhile Rinne has named another former SDP finance minister, Jutta Urpilainen, as Finland's next European Commissioner, the country's first woman on the EU executive.

For the European Commission presidency, the Netherlands' Frans Timmermans and Germany's Manfred Weber have been mentioned as possible candidates, as have France's Michel Barnier and Christine Lagarde and candidates from Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania and Croatia.

Finnish presidency starts Monday

The candidate chosen by EU leaders' meeting must still be approved by a majority of member states' parliaments.

Since 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg has held that post while Poland's Donald Tusk has been European Council President.

Finland's six-month stint in the rotating presidency of the European Council begins on Monday. Members of the European Commission will visit Helsinki on Thursday and Friday to meet with Finnish officials including President Sauli Niinistö.

16.40: corrected Timmermans' nationality.

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia