Nadia Calviño: a prominent figure in the Spanish government to lead the European Investment Bank (EIB).

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Kenya Nicol

Chosen to preside over the European Investment Bank (EIB), Spanish Minister of Economy Nadia Calviño combines the profile of a seasoned technician familiar with the intricacies of the EU with that of a pragmatic politician comfortable in power dynamics.

Since its establishment in 1958, the EIB has had seven presidents, but “all men and no Spaniard,” regretted the 55-year-old economist when announcing her candidacy, expressing her desire to become the first woman to lead this institution considered the financial arm of the EU.

The first woman to lead the European Investment Bank

Mission accomplished: appointed by the European Ministers of Economy and Finance over Danish Margrethe Vestager and Italian Daniele Franco, Ms. Calviño will succeed the German Werner Hoyer, whose second six-year term expires at the end of the year.

This appointment solidifies the international stature of the minister, who has emerged in the past five years as a heavyweight in the Spanish left-wing government, representing the liberal wing and upholding budgetary orthodoxy against the radical left.

Nadia Calviño, originally from La Coruña

The daughter of lawyer José María Calviño Iglesias, appointed in the early 1980s to head public television by a socialist government, Nadia Calviño was born in 1968 in La Coruña, a port city in Galicia (northwest), but grew up in Madrid, where she studied economics and later law.

Entering the Spanish civil service after her studies, this pragmatic expert held leadership positions in the Ministry of Economy under both conservative Prime Minister José María Aznar and socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Fluent in English, French, and German, having worked as an interpreter to finance her studies, she moved to Brussels in 2006, where she served as Director-General for the Budget of the European Commission.

Initially Vice President of the Ministry of Economy

Her political career began in 2018 when Pedro Sánchez, just appointed Prime Minister after overturning conservative Mariano Rajoy in Parliament, offered her the Ministry of Economy with the status of Vice President of the government.

The choice of this technocratic profile aimed to signal stability to the markets, skeptical of the diverse majority gathered by the socialist. It was a successful gamble, despite constant tensions between Ms. Calviño and the ministers of the radical left within the government.

Since 2018, this fan of 1950s cinema, portrayed as cordial but tough in negotiations, has had the challenging task of managing the Spanish economy through the Covid crisis, which caused a free fall in the country’s GDP, and the consequences of the war in Ukraine.

December 2021: President of the IMF’s Monetary and Financial Committee

With some success, Spain has managed to rise since 2022 among the most dynamic economies in the eurozone, with 5.5% growth last year and one of the lowest inflation rates in the eurozone (3.2% in November year-on-year, after dropping to 1.9% in June).

Smiling during her measured-tone interventions, this mother of four children failed in 2020 to lead the Eurogroup, despite Madrid’s campaign among its European partners. However, she was chosen in December 2021 to preside over the IMF’s Monetary and Financial Committee.

Lack of gender parity, “an issue we must take seriously”

A big fan of animal-shaped brooches, carefully coordinated with her outfits, Nadia Calviño attracted attention in May 2022 by refusing to be photographed alongside several male business leaders at an economic forum in Madrid when she realized she was surrounded only by men.

The lack of gender parity in power circles is “an issue we must take seriously” and is “fundamental from the perspective of the proper functioning of our societies,” she explained, promising never to participate again in debates where she would be the only woman.

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