Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s longtime antitrust czar, announced today that she has gone on leave from the Commission, having been assessed as a fit candidate for the presidency of the European Investment Bank (EIB).
“As of today, I am officially a candidate for the presidency of the [EIB]. I am taking leave from the [EU Commission] to focus on my candidacy until the appointment is made,” she said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
The next EIB president will take up their role in January 2024. The choice is expected in mid-September, when EU finance ministers — who represent EIB shareholders — meet to discuss the appointment. After the bank’s advisory committee assessed the candidates, Vestager opted to go on leave, as requested by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, but she can return if her bid to lead the EIB is unsuccessful.
When Vestager informed the Commission president “that the Danish Government had decided to informally propose her as a possible candidate as president of the European Investment Bank (EIB),” von der Leyen “asked her to observe a range of measures … to ensure full compliance with the Code of Conduct, including with regards to conflicts of interest or perception of conflict of interest in relation to the institutional relations and to the files of which she is in charge,” Commission spokesperson Claire Joawn told POLITICO.
Caroline Secher Andersen, a spokesperson for the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told POLITICO that “the Danish government would propose another candidate to the Commission president for the remaining period of the mandate.”
Vestager is the latest high-ranking Commission official to announce an early departure. Vice President Frans Timmermans announced that he would re-enter Dutch national politics, while former Commissioner Mariya Gabriel headed back to Bulgaria.
Vestager’s EIB candidacy was officially endorsed by the Renew group on Monday evening.