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Spain’s Nadia Calviño wins fight to head EU Investment Bank

Nadia Calviño (left) and Margrethe Vestager in May
Nadia Calviño (left) and Margrethe Vestager in May Copyright Bogdan Hoyaux
Copyright Bogdan Hoyaux
By Jack Schickler
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The finance minister’s victory over Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager comes after months of wrangling

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Spain’s finance minister Nadia Calviño has been named next president of the European Investment Bank (EIB), resolving a fractious and long-running dispute among EU finance ministers.

Vincent van Peteghem, the Belgian minister who chairs the public lender’s Board of Governors, told reporters that finance ministers had formed a “consensus” over her candidacy.

Calviño will be "a strong next president of the EIB, the biggest investment bank in the world," van Peteghem said. “I wish her all the best."

Calviño herself told reporters she was "grateful and honoured" to have her colleagues' backing. "This support reflects the respect, appreciation and leadership that we have gained through the hard intense work of the last year."

Calviño, previously an official at the European Commission, pipped Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager in the race to head up the EU’s lending arm.

The position is set to become vacant when Germany’s Werner Hoyer steps down at the end of December, and van Peteghem had already suggested Calviño as the lead candidate in a letter to counterparts sent last week.

The position had been hotly contested – but Spain held a trump card. Under the Council of the EU’s presidency, which rotates among member states, Calviño has since July chaired meetings of finance ministers – likely giving her extra leverage to win support.

Vestager has since 2014 been the EU’s top antitrust enforcer, taking on major tech companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook – but temporarily stood down in September to campaign for the EIB role.

In a post on X, Vestager confirmed she was now withdrawing her candidacy and would resume Commission duties. 

An EU institution funded and governed by the bloc’s 27 national finance ministries, the EIB has more lately rebranded as the bloc’s climate bank – in 2019 promising to support €1 trillion in sustainable investment and end fossil fuel finance – while also funding billions of euros of reconstruction in war-torn Ukraine.

Calviño previously headed up the EU’s budget department, and was in 2019 was a candidate to head up the International Monetary Fund, ultimately losing to Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva.

Her future in the national government seemed in doubt after Spain’s socialist party finished second in July elections – but prime minister Pedro Sánchez has since shored up his position thanks to a controversial deal with Catalan separatists.

Hoyer, previously Germany’s deputy foreign minister, will step down on 31 December after serving two six-year terms.

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