European Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen takes leave to run for presidency in Finland

The European Commissioner for International Partnerships intends to run in the presidential elections in her country and is therefore taking unpaid leave from the European executive. Many departures have already taken place at the European Commission this year.

The European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, announced on Sunday her intention to run in the presidential election in her country, which leads to yet another departure within the European executive.

Ms. Urpilainen said to herself: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 (south). The Finnish presidential election will take place on January 28, 2024, with a possible runoff on February 11.

The commissioner takes a “leave without pay“, with “the option to return» within the European executive in the event of failure of his candidacy, a Commission spokesperson, Balazs Ujvari, told AFP. During his absence, another commissioner will have to temporarily assume his responsibilities, he added.

The Finn is in the same situation as a figure from the Commission, who withdrew from the European executive in September to campaign for the presidency of the European Investment Bank (EIB), while letting herself the possibility of resuming his duties in the event of a setback.

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. Ms Gabriel, now Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bulgaria, was replaced at the Commission by her compatriot Iliana Ivanova. Mr. 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.

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