New commissioner Olli Rehn aims for strong economic portfolio

Following his approval by the Council, the new Finnish Commissioner Olli Rehn has taken office in Brussels with responsibility for the Enterprise and InfoSoc portfolios. His key ambitions lie in economic affairs.

The new Finnish commissioner, Olli Rehn, has been given the
official stamp of approval from the General Affairs Council. In its
meeting on 12 July 2004, the Council confirmed his appointment to
succeed commissioner Liikanen, as an 'A' point [agreed without
discussion].

Rehn, who represents Finland's centrist party, is well known in
Brussels circles as he was Liikanen's head of cabinet from 1998 to
2002 and a Member of the European Parliament from 1995-96. Most
recently, he was economic policy advisor to the Finnish Prime
Minister Matti Vanhanen, who also nominated him for the post of
commissioner.

Erkki Liikanen, himself a Socialist and Commissioner for
Enterprise and Information Society, left his EU position early to
govern the Bank of Finland on 12 July (see ). Rehn will initially
take over Liikanen's portfolio, but he has made clear that in the
new Commission, which will take up office in November, he is
targeting a purely economic portfolio.

"Taking into consideration my background and Finland's strengths
and interests I believe I could give the best contribution to the
European cause and commission in issues that deal with employment,
economy and competitiveness," he told the Finnish news agency YLE.
Finland has also recently mentioned it was eyeing up the
competition post.

Liikanen is the fourth member of the Prodi Commission to leave
their position early, raising speculation about a 'lame duck' the
Commission in its last months in office until November. Since
February, Greek commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, Spanish
commissioner Pedro Solbes and French commissioner Michel Barnier
have all gone back to national politics.

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