Factbox: Women who could run the EU

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Factbox: Women who could run the EU

FILE PHOTO: EU Commissioner Vestager attends a weekly college meeting of the EU executive in Brussels

(Reuters) - The European Union is picking new leaders and aims to put more women in top roles.

No woman has ever headed the executive Commission or the European Council, which represents national governments in the EU hub Brussels. The EU's legislative assembly has had only two female presidents compared to some two dozen male leaders.

The following is a list of female candidates for senior EU positions:


MARGRETHE VESTAGER

The EU's competition chief, the 51-year-old used to head Denmark's Social Liberal party and serve as the country's economy and interior minister. She raised her profile by slapping fines on tech giants Apple and Google in her five years in Brussels. Her party just performed well in elections at home.

Promoted by liberal EU leaders and praised by both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, she could face opposition from Italy over Rome's bank rescue plans she opposes.


KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA

The 65-year-old Bulgarian head of the World Bank, an international development aid body, Georgieva used to serve as the EU's budget commissioner.

"My grandparents had very little education. My parents finished high school. I was the first in my extended family to get a PhD. From a village in Bulgaria to CEO of the World Bank – this is what possibility looks like," Georgieva's Twitter profile says.


NADIA CALVINO

Spain wants to see its 50-year-old economy minister take over the economic portfolio in the next Commission, possibly as a deputy president.

Her chances benefit from a string of election wins by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. Calvino has said Madrid is looking at setting up "green bonds" to help finance a more environmentally-friendly economy.


NATHALIE LOISEAU

France's former minister for EU affairs, Loiseau has served as a French diplomat for nearly three decades. Now aged 55, she led Macron's campaign in last month's EU election, winning 22.4 percent of votes for La République En Marche and trailing the nationalists by less than one point.

She was the second woman to lead the ENA, France's elite university that churns out senior public officials. Seen as having plenty of acumen and experience but lacking in charisma.


VERA JOUROVA

The Czech Republic's EU commissioner holds the justice and gender equality portfolios at the Commission. The 54-year-old is making a pitch around her work on upholding the rule of law in the EU, as well as the bloc's new GDPR data protection rules.

Allied with the liberal party of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, her candidacy might take a hit from the EU's developing investigation into the billionaire premier's possible conflicts of interest.


CHRISTINE LAGARDE

Member of France's centre-right Les Republicains party who describes herself as an economic liberal, the 63-year-old is the first woman to head the International Monetary Fund. In the job since 2011, she has navigated the eurozone debt crisis, the fallout from global trade wars and emerging market risks.

She was also the first woman to serve as finance minister of a G7 country, a post she held in France from 2007-2011. Though she has in the past ruled herself out of the EU race, her name keeps popping up.


MAIREAD MCGUINNESS

Ireland's McGuinness is currently one of the European Parliament's vice presidents. A television journalist with a background in agriculture, the 59-year-old has been a prominent speaker in the Brexit debate over the last three years.

She won the largest share of the vote by any Irish EU lawmaker in last month's bloc-wide elections and has said she would consider running for the European Parliament's presidency, noting the lack of women being put forward for top EU jobs.


DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE

Lithuania's outgoing president, the 63-year-old remains one of the most popular politicians in her country. Affiliated with the centre-right, she used to serve as the country's finance minister and EU commissioner.

"Grybauskaite prides herself on being straightforward and all business," said a 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks. Her brash style and hawkish stance on Russia would make her difficult to accept for some EU states.


HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT

Schmidt, 52, was the first woman to serve as prime minister of Denmark. She lost the race to lead the European Council to Donald Tusk in 2014 and later served as head of the charity Save the Children. She has spoken of the importance of women serving in top EU jobs.


ANGELA MERKEL

The German leader has said she will retire from politics when her term runs out in 2021. But some in the bloc hope she reconsiders, given her vast experience and commitment to the EU.

"I am not available for any further political office, regardless of where it is - including in Europe," she has said.


(Reporting by Gavin Jones in Rome, Andreas Mortensen in Copenhagen, Jan Lopatka in Prague, Belen Carreno in Madrid, Rachel Joyner in Paris, Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia, Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska)