Jutta Urpilainen wants to have influence again in Helsinki rather than in Brussels. The European Commissioner for International Partnerships announced on Sunday her intention to run in the presidential election in Finland, leading to yet another departure from the European Union executive.
She said she was “ready to be the candidate” of the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP) and to participate in the presidential campaign from December 2, during a speech in Tampere. The election will take place on January 28, 2024, with a possible second round on February 11.
A withdrawal after that of the Competition Commissioner
The commissioner is taking “unpaid leave”, with “the option to return” to the European executive in the event of failure of her candidacy, said a Commission spokesperson, Balazs Ujvari. During his absence, another commissioner will have to temporarily assume his responsibilities, he added.
The Finn is in the same situation as a figure in the Commission, the Danish Margrethe Vestager (Competition) who took a step back in September to campaign for the presidency of the European Investment Bank (EIB), while leaving himself the possibility of resuming his duties in the event of a setback.
End of the Commission’s mandate next June
Former Bulgarian commissioners Mariya Gabriel (Culture) and Dutch commissioner Frans Timmermans (in charge of the Green Deal) resigned from their positions respectively in May and August to devote themselves to national politics. Mariya Gabriel, now Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bulgaria, has been replaced at the Commission by her compatriot Iliana Ivanova. Frans Timmermans, candidate in the legislative elections on November 22 in the Netherlands, was succeeded in Brussels by former Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra.
These departures come as the end of the five-year mandate of the Commission chaired by the German Ursula von der Leyen looms, which will be renewed following the European elections in June 2024.