Nadia Calviño overcomes another hurdle in bid for EIB top job

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Nadia Calviño’s ambition to become the president of the EU̵7;s bank received a major boost on Wednesday when the European Parliament removed a significant obstacle to her appointment.

Spain’s deputy prime minister is vying with Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager, currently on leave as EU digital and antitrust chief, to become president of the European Investment Bank, in a decision that is pitting the bloc’s governments against each other.

While they had hoped to reach a decision earlier this month, officials say uncertainty in Paris about who to back and divisions in Berlin’s coalition government have added greater complications than usual to what could have been a straightforward choice.

But in typical EU fashion, Calviño’s chances have been increased because of how the European Parliament moved to fill a completely different job.

Lawmakers voted to support Germany’s Claudia Buch’s nomination for the next head of the EU’s banking supervisor.

Two Spaniards

Buch, vice president of the Bundesbank, had been up against Margarita Delgado, deputy governor of the Bank of Spain, to become the next chair of the European Central Bank’s Supervisory Board and while the process is separate from the EIB race, it was pulled together because other EU countries wouldn’t be able to swallow two Spaniards taking on two top financial posts.

MEPs on the European Parliament’s economics committee voted 29 to 23 in a secret ballot, with two abstentions, to support Buch.

In an earlier hearing, EU lawmakers from across the political spectrum slammed the ECB for putting Buch forward, instead of Delgado, who was their preference.

Belgian MEP Johan van Overtveldt, from the European Conservatives and Reformists, made clear that her nomination was part of a “bigger picture in terms of appointments at a European level.”

The German now needs to win the support of the full Parliament’s plenary session and the sign-off of EU governments to clinch the role overseeing the bloc’s biggest banks.

Crucial role

As for the EIB job, France and Germany are all-important decision-makers in selecting the next boss at the body, which doles out billions of euros of loans to big infrastructure projects across Europe and is growing in importance because it is expected to have a crucial role in rebuilding Ukraine in the years ahead.

The decision will have to be taken at the latest before the end of this year, when current President Werner Hoyer is due to leave.

The winning candidate requires 68 percent of the share capital of the EIB and 18 countries to back them, although realistically the decision all but hinges on France and Germany and the EU’s finance ministers are aiming to get a consensus.