EU Development Bank and Banking Supervision

Double showdown for top jobs at EIB and ECB

Who will take over as the head of the EU Development Bank EIB? And who will lead the ECB Banking Supervision? Both procedures are closely linked – and heading towards a decision.

Double showdown for top jobs at EIB and ECB

When it comes to her candidacy for the head of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Nadia Calviño is conspicuously reticent these days. The EIB is a very strong institution, she cajoled Wednesday on the podium of a economic conference in Brussels. "The caliber of the candidates reflects its importance."." A skillful combination of self-praise and show of respect for her main rival, Denmark's Margrethe Vestager.
Meanwhile, for two other women, an equally high-stakes showdown is approaching: the competition for the leadership of the EU Banking Supervision, housed within the European Central Bank (ECB). Claudia Buch, the Deputy President of the Bundesbank, can legitimately hope for the position. At least, this is what recent media reports suggest, after her opponent Margarita Delgado initially seemed to have better cards.

Parallel procedures

It is clear that Delgado and Calviño are unlikely to both succeed. That would contradict the unwritten laws at the European level, because both are Spanish. What is certain is that the two incumbents – the Italian Andrea Enria at the helm of ECB Banking Supervision and Werner Hoyer, who has been with the EIB for twelve years – will step down at the end of this year.

Clear procedures have been laid down for the search for a successor. In the case of the Single Supervisory Mechanism, the Governing Council of the ECB nominates a candidate. As things stand, this will happen in the middle of next week. The nominee will then face a hearing in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the EU Parliament (Econ). According to the Börsen-Zeitung, the hearing is scheduled for September 20th.

Delicate hearing

In the event of her nomination, members of the European Parliament are likely to scrutinize Claudia Buch particularly closely. This is because, during an informal hearing of the two candidates in the early summer, her Spanish counterpart left a somewhat better impression due to her extensive experience in banking supervision.

In theory, the Econ Committee could reject a candidate, but this is considered highly unlikely, not least because it would be an affront to the ECB's Governing Council. The final approval must come from the Council of Member States, likely to happen in October.

Vestager staying in the background

The appointment of the top position at the EIB also requires the Finance Ministers of the 27 EU member states to weigh in, in their capacity as governors of the EU's own development bank. As things stand, the personnel issue will be the subject of the finance ministers' meeting in Santiago de Compostela at the end of next week. The Ecofin Council will meet there for an informal session.

As acting Spanish minister, Nadia Calviño will chair the meeting. This lends the whole thing additional explosiveness – even though the search for a new EIB head is formally in the hands of Belgian Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem, who presides over the Board of Governors at the EIB.
Meanwhile, Calviño's main rival, Margrethe Vestager, is staying in the background. The Dane has temporarily withdrawn from her post as EU Competition Commissioner. She has informed Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of her nomination by the Danish government and asked for unpaid leave, the authority said.

Who will succeed Lagarde in 2027?

In the meantime, some stakeholders are looking ahead to the autumn of 2027, when the term of ECB President Christine Lagarde ends. Since Germany has never previously provided an ECB President, it is likely that the question of Germany being "due" for the Lagarde succession will arise again. Many consider Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel a natural candidate.

If Claudia Buch were to be appointed now, her regular term would run until the end of 2028. It hardly seems conceivable that a country would simultaneously head the European Central Bank and the ECB's SSM. However, not all insiders completely rule out such a possibility. But Germany would have to stake a claim to the ECB's top job in the first place.