Former Dutch minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem will not compete for the chair the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He received too little support from the 28 European finance ministers, after which he retired as candidate-chairman.
The ministers will now nominate the Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva for the top position. Officially, Georgieva still needs the support of the United States to be appointed to the IMF, but that is normally a formality.
Dijsselbloem congratulated Georgieva, who holds a high position at the World Bank, via Twitter.
I congratulate Kristalina Georgieva with the outcome of todays European votes. I wish her the utmost succes.
— Jeroen Dijsselbloem (@J_Dijsselbloem) August 2, 2019
This afternoon, Finnish central bank president Olli Rehn withdrew as a candidate, “so that we can reach a broad consensus,” Rehn said via Twitter.
This left Dijsselbloem (53) and Georgieva (65). In the following hours, the EU ministers held strong consultations. In the course of the evening it became clear that Georgieva enjoyed more support. The Bulgarian had, among others, France, Italy and Eastern Europe.
Blow for the Netherlands
The choice for Georgieva is a blow to Dijsselbloem and the Dutch government. Last month the Netherlands grabbed a top international position as well. Then the EU leaders decided not to nominate Frans Timmermans but the German Ursula von der Leyen as the new president of the European Commission.
This time, the Netherlands assumed that Dijsselbloem had the best papers for the top position at the IMF. Georgieva, for example, is celebrating her 66th birthday in a week and a half, with which she is actually too old for the position. The chairman may not be older than 65 when he takes office. IMF countries should therefore make an exception for it.
That fact therefore proved not to be a stumbling block for EU ministers to nominate her as a candidate. “The IMF can adjust that age rule,” says Financial Times columnist Wolfgang Münchau in Nieuwsuur. “If they really want her, that limit is no obstacle.”
In the end, Dijsselbloem was a controversial candidate, Münchau suspects.
“Certainly people in Southern Europe remember his time as president of the Eurogroup, his support for austerity and his criticism of member states that spend money on alcohol and women. That didn’t help him. Those things could have cost him crucial votes.”
Georgieva will start her work at the IMF in September, when the US has given the green light for her appointment. The Bulgarian then succeeds Christine Lagarde, who is leading the European Central Bank (ECB).
For decades, the US and Europe have had a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ when it comes to the top positions at the IMF and the World Bank. The Americans agree with the European candidate for the IMF if Europe agrees with the American candidate president of the World Bank.
Europe has sticked to that deal earlier this year; David Malpass, an American, was appointed in April.