By Anne Rovan
INVESTIGATION – The Danish commissioner is seeking the presidency of the very strategic EIB. But his star has faded in recent years in Brussels against a backdrop of tension with Thierry Breton.
She was nicknamed the “Ice Lady”. Donald Trump, furious with her, gave her the nickname “tax lady”. And yet, the Dane who made Apple, Google and Amazon tremble from Brussels does not take off her tote bag on which is written “I knit so I don’t kill people“. Margrethe Vestager is a knitting enthusiast who always has balls and needles on hand. She connects stitches and rows with the regularity of a metronome during internal meetings and in public, and has many fans in the Instagram knitting community. This manual activity, far from distracting, on the contrary allows him to channel his attention.
If EU member states appointed her head of the European Investment Bank (EIB), the position she is seeking, the balls of yarn would be baroque to say the least in the clic and sanitized world of the bank. in Luxembourg. A few days ago, Margrethe Vestager left her important role as executive vice-president of the European Commission, taking unpaid leave which guarantees her being able to return in the event of failure as president of the EIB. The announcement of his departure was made on X (formerly Twitter), from his sober office on the twelfth floor of the Berlaymont, headquarters of the Commission. “Stay connected», she concluded, sitting in an armchair, elegantly dressed and looking into the camera with her large pale green eyes.
At 55, this woman, recognizable by her short hair, already has a long career behind her, first in her country: Minister of Education, Minister of the Economy and the Interior, president of the social-liberal party Danish. It was she who served as a model for the internationally successful “Borgen” series. In Europe then: Competition Commissioner under Jean-Claude Juncker, unsuccessful candidate to succeed him in 2019 and third executive vice-president in the von der Leyen team. In Denmark, she enjoys the reputation of an “ice woman” -“ice woman»- for having reformed the unemployment insurance system in the years 2012-2013, drastically shortening the compensation period.
So here she is ready to take on the challenge of a new adventure. Tallinn, Sofia, Berlin, she has made numerous trips in recent days to convince the capitals to support her. Like the other candidates for the post, she traveled to Santiago de Compostela where the finance ministers were meeting. This Saturday, they will have a first exchange on this difficult issue. To curry favor with Paris, she announced that nuclear power would have its place in projects financed by the EIB. Without much enthusiasm, however, since she is not in favor of atomic energy.
This appointment will certainly take time. The most optimistic are betting on October, the others on the end of the year. The stakes are enormous for Europe. The EIB, whose capital belongs to the Member States, invested more than 70 billion euros last year and its activity will increase significantly to finance the green pact, the energy transition, digital technology, defense, the reconstruction of the ‘Ukraine…
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