HELSINKI, May 28 (Reuters) - The European Union’s former top economic official Olli Rehn was appointed to be Finland’s new minister of economic affairs on Friday by the ruling Centre Party.
The 53-year-old Rehn, who oversaw the EU’s austerity policy during the euro zone debt crisis, was elected to the Finnish parliament in April after stepping down from the European Commission last year. He will now face the tough task of returning the troubled Finnish economy to growth.
“The government has two major tasks, one is to put public finances in balance and the other is to revive sustainable growth and employment,” he told reporters.
“This seat also has a strong EU dimension. It is important that we use all our know-how to get European investment money to the Finnish economy.”
Rehn was elected to the European Parliament last year but quit his seat to run in Finland’s election.
The Finnish economy has contracted for three years in a row and has yet to return to 2008 output levels, while its public debt and budget deficit have risen to levels that this month prompted a warning from the European Commission.
The coalition government, including Centre Party, eurosceptic The Finns Party and centre-right National Coalition Party, on Wednesday struck a deal after weeks of negotiations and is expected to be nominated on Friday. (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Catherine Evans)