European Union governments will try to choose between two candidates to lead the International Monetary Fund, after three candidates pulled out of the race.

The Finnish central bank governor Olli Rehn became the latest candidate to drop out today, according to a French official.

His withdrawal comes after Nadia Calvino, the Spanish economy minister, and Mario Centeno, the Portuguese chairman of euro zone finance ministers, dropped out of the race.

The Dutch former head of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem and the World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva from Bulgaria are the only two candidates remaining.

Britain opposed the plan to select a candidate now, saying it was "premature" and did not allow London enough time to propose one of its own, according to a confidential note seen by Reuters.

Candidates for the head of the Washington-based IMF can be fielded until September 6th. 

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is leading the process to select a European candidate.

The top job at the world lender has historically been filled by a European, but candidates from elsewhere may gain traction if Europe is divided.

The former IMF chief, France's Christine Lagarde, resigned in July after EU leaders chose her to replace Mario Draghi as European Central Bank president.

Northern European countries prefer Dijsselbloem or Rehn; southern and eastern states are seen pushing for Georgieva, one European official said.

Since an informal compromise was impossible, France decided to push for a vote. 

A candidate who obtains 55% of the votes of the 28 EU states, representing at least 65% of its population, will win.