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Olli Rehn

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Olli Rehn
Rehn in 2023
Governor of the Bank of Finland
Assumed office
12 July 2018
Preceded byErkki Liikanen
Minister of Economic Affairs
In office
29 May 2015 – 29 December 2016
Prime MinisterJuha Sipilä
Preceded byJan Vapaavuori
Succeeded byMika Lintilä
European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro
In office
9 February 2010 – 1 July 2014
PresidentJosé Manuel Barroso
Preceded byJoaquín Almunia (Economic and Monetary Affairs)
Succeeded bySiim Kallas (Acting)
European Commissioner for Enlargement
In office
22 November 2004 – 9 February 2010
PresidentJosé Manuel Barroso
Preceded byGünter Verheugen
Janez Potočnik
Succeeded byŠtefan Füle (Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy)
European Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society
In office
12 July 2004 – 11 November 2004
Served with Ján Figeľ
PresidentRomano Prodi
Preceded byErkki Liikanen
Succeeded byGünter Verheugen (Enterprise and Industry)
Viviane Reding (Information Society and Media)
Member of the Finnish Parliament
In office
23 April 2015 – 19 January 2017
ConstituencyHelsinki (2015–2017)
In office
22 March 1991 – 23 March 1995
ConstituencyHelsinki (1991–1995)
Personal details
Born (1962-03-31) 31 March 1962 (age 62)
Mikkeli, Finland
Political partyCentre Party
EducationMacalester College (BA)
University of Helsinki (MA)
St Antony's College, Oxford (DPhil)

Olli Ilmari Rehn (pronounced [ˈolːi ˈreːn] ; born 31 March 1962) is a Finnish economist and public official who has been serving as governor of the Bank of Finland since 2018. A member of the Centre Party, he previously served as the European Commissioner for Enlargement from 2004 to 2010, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro from 2010 to 2014, and Minister of Economic Affairs in Juha Sipilä's cabinet from 2015 until 2016.[1] Rehn ran for President of Finland as an independent candidate in 2024, but was not elected.

Early life and education


Born in Mikkeli in Eastern Finland, Rehn studied economics, international relations, and journalism at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in the United States. He gained a master's degree in political science from the University of Helsinki in 1989, and a D.Phil. from St. Antony's College, Oxford in 1996 on the subject of "Corporatism and Industrial Competitiveness in Small European States".[2] In addition to his native Finnish and German he speaks English, French, Swedish, and some Russian, Polish and Hungarian.[3]

Rehn also played football for his hometown club Mikkelin Palloilijat in Finland's top division Mestaruussarja (now Veikkausliiga) in his youth.

Finnish politics


He began his political career in youth politics as a regular member of the Finnish Centre Youth and soon became the secretary general of the Nordic Centre Youth. In 1987, he was elected as the president of the Finnish Centre Youth. That position can be seen as predicting high political responsibilities in Finnish politics.[4]

In 1988 Rehn was elected as a city councillor in Helsinki. He was vice president of the Centre Party from 1988 to 1994, having been president of its youth wing from 1987. Elected to the Finnish Parliament in 1991, Rehn led the Finnish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and was a special adviser to the Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho from 1992 to 1993. He left the Finnish Parliament in 1995 to become an MEP, aligned to the liberal group. He was, however, not re-elected in the 1996 election.

He was briefly the chairman of Veikkausliiga from 1996 to 1997. From 1998 to 2002 Rehn ran the office of Erkki Liikanen, Finland's representative on the Prodi Commission. Rehn would later succeed Liikanen in the role of commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society. In 2002, he left European politics for the University of Helsinki, where he led the Centre for European Studies. In 2003, he became an adviser to the prime minister on economic policy, a position he held until his appointment to the European Commission the following year.

European Commission

Olli Rehn and José Manuel Barroso at the Santralistanbul

Rehn served briefly on the Prodi Commission. He was appointed European commissioner for enterprise and information society on 12 July 2004, taking over the role from the previous Finnish commissioner Erkki Liikanen, who left his post the same day to become governor of the Bank of Finland. The Finnish government nominated Rehn for the incoming Barroso Commission, which took office on 22 November 2004. He was the youngest member of the first Barroso Commission.

Rehn's appointment to the enlargement post was seen as a slight disappointment for Finland, who had hoped for their nominee to be given a portfolio relating to economic issues. Enlargement was a central issue for the EU in the run-up to the landmark accession of ten countries on 1 May 2004, but has since declined in importance, if only slightly. Rehn presided over the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, as well as continuing negotiations with Croatia and opening them with Turkey, the latter being perhaps the most significant and the most hotly debated future accession.

Rehn favours Turkish membership but has controversially suggested permanent restrictions on the free movement of workers from Turkey, "in case serious disturbances occur in the labour market within the EU as a result of Turkey’s accession", an attitude seen by some as running counter to the whole purpose and spirit of the EU.[5] He has stressed the importance of greater respect for human rights and civil liberties as preconditions for Turkey's entry, while acknowledging the advances it had already made in this respect.

Siim Kallas was twice acting commissioner in his stead, from 19 April 2014 to 25 May 2014 while he was on electoral campaign leave for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament and from 1 July 2014 – 16 July 2014 after he took up his seat.[6][7]

Selection hearing


Questioned by the European Parliament, Rehn offered his thoughts on the prospects for accession of each of the countries highest on the enlargement agenda. He praised Turkey for the human rights advances it had made but said he would advocate stronger monitoring if the decision was taken to open accession talks by the European Council when it considered the question in December.

Asked about free movement of Turkish labour after the country's accession, Rehn expressed the view that there should be "considerable transitional periods as well as a permanent safeguard clause". He was cautious on the question of the inevitability of Turkish membership, stating that he did not "believe in historic determinism", but that if negotiations were begun, "underpinned by the commitment that [Turkey] will be able to join [the EU] once it fulfils all conditions, it will join as soon as it does meet the conditions".

He insisted that Bulgaria and Romania would be judged on their merits and that he would not hesitate to delay accession by a year if the EU's requirements were not met on time. He considered the establishment of a pre-accession strategy for the Western Balkans one of his prime tasks.

European sovereign debt crisis

Olli Rehn giving a speech at 47th Munich Security Conference in 2011
Olli Rehn with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte in 2012

In late June 2011, Rehn spoke out on austerity measures being considered by the Greek parliament, saying, "The only way to avoid immediate default is for parliament to endorse the revised economic program...The program includes both the medium-term fiscal strategy and the privatization program. They must be approved if the next tranche of financial assistance [a 12 billion euro aid payment] is to be released...To those who speculate about other options, let me say this clearly: there is no Plan B to avoid default".[8]

In May 2012, coincident with warnings from Mario Draghi of the ECB, Rehn said that even if Eurobonds "were ever approved, it would still not be sufficient to save the euro. The single currency’s members needed 'a genuine stability culture and a much upgraded common capacity to contain common contagion', if they wanted to avoid a disintegration of the eurozone and if they wanted it to survive".[9]

Rehn has continued to maintain that the only way out of the crisis is a continued programme of fiscal austerity. Economist Paul Krugman has been critical of this stance, saying in early 2013 that Olli Rehn, and the economic management of the European Commission, had been proven disastrously wrong in their predictions and management since the beginning of the crisis. He noted, "European leaders seem determined to learn nothing, which makes this more than a tragedy; it’s an outrage."[10] Krugman maintains that Rehn's focus on fiscal discipline is in fact an excuse to dismantle the social safety net and reduce the size of government, as he has criticized countries, such as France which have tried to achieve fiscal discipline through tax increases.[11]

In mid-2013, Rehn claimed that the European Commission was following a pragmatic policy balancing austerity policies with pro-growth policies and that much of the criticism was unfair.[12]

Member of the European Parliament, 2014–2015


Rehn was a candidate in the 2014 European election and was elected MEP. In the European Parliament he was elected to be one of the parliament's 14 vice presidents.[13]

Return to Finnish politics


Minister of Economic Affairs, 2015–2016


In 2015, Rehn was elected in the Finnish parliamentary election with 6,837 votes.[14] His term in the European Parliament ended on 27 April, when Rehn officially accepted the seat in the Finnish Parliament.[15] On 29 May 2015, Rehn was appointed the Minister of Economic Affairs in Sipilä Cabinet.[16] During his time in office, he oversaw the country's emergence from a three-year recession thanks to a combination of tax and spending cuts. He also played a key role in persuading labor unions to agree to pay cuts to restore competitiveness.[17]

Bank of Finland, 2016–present


On 14 October 2016, Rehn was selected to the board of the Bank of Finland.[18] In this capacity, he is in charge of monetary policy implementation and investment of the Bank of Finland's financial assets. He is also responsible for the bank's digitalisation process and for the activities of the Financial Supervisory Authority, where he is chairman of the board.[19] He continued as a minister and MP till the end of 2016.[20]

Following the resignation of Christine Lagarde as managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2019, Rehn was one of the candidates considered by European governments as potential successor; he withdrew his candidacy shortly after[21] and the post went to Kristalina Georgieva instead.

Presidential election 2024


In June 2023, Rehn announced his candidacy for 2024 presidential election as an independent candidate.[22] In the election, he placed fourth with 15.32% of the total vote count and failed to advance to the second round of voting.[23]

Other activities


International organizations


Non-profit organizations


Personal life


Rehn is married with one child.

After launching his political career Rehn did not give up football but has played for the teams of both the Finnish parliament and the European Commission. With the Finnish parliament team, he twice helped to win the European championship of parliaments in the early 1990s.[34]

His mother was Vuokko Rehn.[35]




  1. ^ "Olli Rehn portfolio". EC webpage. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006.
  2. ^ "Olli Rehn CV". EC webpage.
  3. ^ "Olli Rehn: Personal profile". European Commission. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  4. ^ Vanhanen, Tatu. Vihreä Nuoriso, Nuoren Keskustan Liitto r.y., 1995, p. 104.
  5. ^ Speech in Istanbul on Turkish accession (full text Archived 21 November 2004 at the Wayback Machine), 20 October 2004
  6. ^ "Six commissioners head for EU election campaign trail". EUobserver. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2023.
  7. ^ "KUNA : Barroso announces caretaker replacements following resignation of 4 EU Commissioners - Politics - 01/07/2014". www.kuna.net.kw. Retrieved 19 March 2023.
  8. ^ Watts, William L. (28 June 2011). "EU's Rehn: 'No Plan B' to avoid Greek default". MarketWatch. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  9. ^ Kirkup, James (31 May 2012). "Euro is facing disintegration, Commission warns". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  10. ^ Krugman, Paul (March 2013). "Disastrous Predictions and Predictable Disasters". New York Times. The Conscience of a Liberal. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  11. ^ Krugman, Paul (10 November 2013). "The Plot Against France". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 16 November 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Olli Rehn Tries to Shed 'Austerity' Label". The New York Times. 18 May 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  13. ^ Olli Rehn valittiin EU-parlamentin varapuhemieheksi, HS.fi, 1 July 2014, accessed 1 July 2014
  14. ^ "Eduskuntavaalit 2015: Valitut ehdokkaat". Ministry of Justice. 22 April 2015. Archived from the original on 25 June 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  15. ^ "Hannu Takkula aloitti työnsä EU-parlamentissa". Ilta-sanomat. 29 April 2015. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Sipilä's Government appointed". Government Communications Department. 29 May 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  17. ^ Raine Tiessalo (14 October 2016), Austerity Fan Olli Rehn Appointed to Bank of Finland Board Bloomberg News.
  18. ^ "Olli Rehn siirtyy Suomen Pankkiin – tuleeko Paula Lehtomäestä uusi elinkeinoministeri? Vai onko tiedossa isompi kierrätys?". Helsingin Sanomat. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  19. ^ Members of the Board: Olli Rehn Bank of Finland.
  20. ^ "Yllätys: Rehn jatkaa ministerinä vuodenvaihteeseen asti". Taloussanomat. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  21. ^ George Parker and Chris Giles (August 2, 2019), Europe down to two candidates to replace Lagarde at IMF Financial Times.
  22. ^ "Olli Rehn lähtee ehdolle presidentinvaaleihin valitsijayhdistyksen kautta – "Meillä on eväät olla menestyjäkansa"". Yle. 21 June 2023. Retrieved 6 July 2023.
  23. ^ "Presidential election 2024, Whole country, Results by candidate". Ministry of Justice, Information and Result Service. 28 January 2024. Retrieved 29 January 2024.
  24. ^ Governing Council European Central Bank (ECB).
  25. ^ Members European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB).
  26. ^ Board of Governors International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  27. ^ 2011 Annual Report European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
  28. ^ Global Advisory Board Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL).
  29. ^ Europe Policy Group World Economic Forum.
  30. ^ Global Fiscal Systems: From Crisis to Sustainability World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Public Finance and Social Protection Systems, May 2016.
  31. ^ Global Future Council: The Future of Financial and Monetary Systems World Economic Forum.
  32. ^ Membership Trilateral Commission.
  33. ^ Olli Rehn joins ERA's Governing Board Academy of European Law (ERA), press release of 25 September 2014.
  34. ^ Tumoas Savonen (3 November 2004), Barroso’s centre-forward European Voice.
  35. ^ "Vuokko Rehn on kuollut" (in Finnish). Yle. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  36. ^ "Ruotsalainen tyyliasiantuntija HS:lle: "Suzanne Innes-Stubbin puku korkeaa Hollywood-tasoa"". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). 23 April 2024. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  37. ^ "Tasavallan presidentti luovutti Suomen Leijonan suurristit". Office of the President of the Republic of Finland (in Finnish). 5 December 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  38. ^ "Olli Ilmari Rehn and Timo Pesonen were presented with decorations of the Republic of Estonia". President. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  39. ^ "Par Triju Zvaigžņu ordeņa piešķiršanu un un apbalvošanu ar goda zīmi". Latvijas Vēstnesis (in Latvian). 30 October 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  40. ^ "Olli Rehn on vuoden ulkosuomalainen". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). 7 October 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
Political offices
Preceded by Finnish European Commissioner
Succeeded by
European Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society
Served alongside: Ján Figeľ
Succeeded byas European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry
Succeeded byas European Commissioner for Information Society and Media
Preceded by European Commissioner for Enlargement
Succeeded byas European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
Preceded byas European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Governor of Bank of Finland