The EU has narrowed down the field of its candidates to replace Christine Lagarde at the IMF to three names: Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Kristalina Georgieva and Olli Rehn.
European negotiators are rushing to secure a consensus on who should be the next managing director of the Fund, wary that a failure to agree on a single candidate will introduce rivals for the position from large emerging markets. The process to pick Ms Lagarde’s successor is due to conclude in October.
On Friday, the French finance ministry — which is leading negotiations for the EU — shortlisted five European names for the job but failed to reach any consensus. Of the five, Mário Centeno, Portugal’s current eurogroup chair and Nadia Calviño, Spain’s finance minister and a former Brussels bureaucrat, have now been ruled out, according a senior official familiar with the talks.
Of the three remaining candidates, Mr Dijsselbloem is known to have the support of northern European countries and Germany. The former Dutch finance minister was chair of the Eurogroup of finance ministers during the height of the eurozone crisis.
Mr Rehn, a Finnish EU commissioner for the economy and current head of Finland’s central bank, has a similar profile to Mr Dijsselbloem and is likely to get the backing of northern states.
The absence of any candidate from southern Europe suggests both Mr Rehn and Mr Dijsselbloem will not be blocked by opposition from the likes of Spain, Italy or Portugal.
Ms Georgieva, the current chief executive of the World Bank, has been backed by France but her candidacy would require a change to the IMF’s bylaws which prevent a managing director over the age of 65 applying for the job.