Finland will officially nominate Jyrki Katainen, who stepped down as prime minister last month to seek a high-level European post, to become EU commissioner on Thursday (10 July), the new prime minister Alexander Stubb said.
Katainen will replace Olli Rehn, who was Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, as Finland’s representative at the European Commission. He could seek Rehn’s post, one of the most powerful roles in the EU, but would face stiff competition, with former French finance minister Pierre Moscovici and the Netherlands’ Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the Eurogroup, seen as potential candidates.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president-designate of the Commission, has said that as he himself is a conservative, the economic and monetary affairs post is likely to go to a socialist, which would rule out Katainen who represents the European People’s Party (EPP) in the EU.
Stubb, however, said on Wednesday (9 July) that that was not a done deal, and depended on who would be the next head of the Eurogroup, the group of eurozone finance ministers.
“If the Eurogroup head is a social democrat, then the economics commissioner could come from EPP,” Stubb told journalists.
Stubb said he expected Katainen, who is also a former finance minister, would get an important portfolio related to economics at the Commission, and mentioned the internal market, competition, foreign trade, energy or economics portfolios as possible options.
Each of the 28 EU member states hold one post in the Commission and the current European Commission’s mandate expires at the end of October.
Rehn was the EU’s top economic official for the past four years. He stepped down on 1 July after winning a seat in the European Parliament. Katainen is expected to replace him temporarily starting later this month until the end of October.