Urpilainen lands EU ‘international partnerships’ Commissioner role

The new line-up of EU Commissioners was unveiled on Tuesday, with Finland's Jutta Urpilainen landing a job with a broad international remit.

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Finland's EU Commissioner-designate Jutta Urpilainen gives interviews in Brussels, September 10th 2019 / Credit: @EevaLaavakari Twitter

The former Finance Minister and leader of the Social Democrats Jutta Urpilainen has landed the role of Commissioner for International Partnerships in the cabinet of incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

EU member states accepted the list of commissioner candidates on Tuesday, but the appointments still have to be approved by the European Parliament before the new President and Commissioners start their term in office on 1st November.

In theory, EU lawmakers can still reject some of the Commissioner proposals in von der Leyen’s gender-balanced cabinet.

“The EU is a world leader in international cooperation and development support” Urpilainen writes on Twitter, describing the portfolio as a “great opportunity”.

“In an increasingly unsettled world, the partnerships we build are essential for our future. We need a strong Europe as a global actor” she says.

The 44-year old Vaasa politician studied at Jyväskylä Univeristy and worked as a teacher until being elected to parliament in 2003.

She became the first female leader of the Social Democrats from 2008 to 2011, and served three years as Minister of Finance in Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen‘s (NCP) government.

Urpilainen now succeeds Katainen as Finland’s EU Commissioner – the first time that Finland has had a female Commissioner – and Katainen was one of the first to offer his congratulations.

“International Partnerships, whether about stability in our neighbourhood, success of our development policy or our economic relations, are key for Europe’s future, security, sustainable growth and investments” says the ex-PM.

Katainen will return to Finland to take up a role as head of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.