Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) is in Brussels attending the European Council meeting of EU heads of government.
It’s Rinne’s first time representing Finland at one of these meetings since he became PM earlier this month.
On the agenda for the two-day summit is EU enlargement, and whether to let countries like Albania and North Macedonia join. They’re also discussing climate change goals, with a block of mainly East European countries including Estonia holding out for a less strict timetable to be carbon neutral. Britain’s departure from the EU – known as Brexit – has already come up with some leaders saying they don’t want to give the UK any more extensions to the 31st October Brexit deadline.
But top of the list of concerns for leaders is picking consensus candidates for the EU’s top jobs including President and de facto Foreign Minister, as well as chair of the European Central Bank.
Leaders have to weigh up the balance between big countries and small countries, geographical representation and gender.
Convention would dictate that the lead candidate of the largest political block in the European Parliament would get the job of Commission President. But the European People’s Party didn’t do as well as they hoped and their candidate Manfred Weber is backed by the Germans, but not the French. The French President Emmanuel Macron wants to see a non-German get the role.
Finland is putting forward both Erkki Liikanen (SDP) and Olli Rehn (Centre) as potential candidates to head up the European Central Bank.
Since the ECB has been lead by a Southern European for the last eight years, analysts think the job could go this time to someone from the North – and Finland will keep both candidates in the race for now until it becomes clear which enjoys more support for the role.
At 68-years old Liikanen would become the oldest ever head of the ECB; while at 57-years old Rehn would become its youngest ever president.