Tuesday

28th Mar 2017

Juncker backs German finance minister for eurozone post

  • Wolgang Schauble is already the main decision maker in the Eurogroup (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker has said he "fully supports" German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble to become his successor when his mandate runs out at the end of May.

According to the Luxembourg Prime Minister - who has chaired meetings of eurozone finance ministers ever since the eurogroup was formalised in 2004 - his successor should be someone who can listen to others and has a deep knowledge of the eurozone issues. "

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In this respect, he would be the perfect match," Juncker said about Schauble on Monday (30 April) during a debate in Hamburg organised by Der Spiegel magazine.

The 69-year old Christian-Democrat is a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel and a strong advocate of budgetary discipline in southern countries.

Some diplomats have expressed concerns his appointment would be too strong a signal that Germany is running the single currency. But others say there is no better way to turn a "hawk" into a moderate than by putting him at the helm of the ministers' group, where he has to mediate among 17 different positions.

If Schauble gets the job, Germany would need to give up its chairmanship of the eurozone bail-out funds, however.

Currently the temporary European Financial Stability Facility is being chaired by Klaus Regling, a former head of the European Commission's financial affairs directorate.

The German economist had hoped to stay on as head of the permanent bail-out fund, the European Stability Mechanism, when it enters life on 1 July, as most of the EFSF staff will be taken over by the ESM. But with Schauble at the Eurogroup, Spain and France would claim the EFSF/ESM chairmanship for them.

Meanwhile, Finance ministers from all 27 member states meeting on Wednesday (2 May) are to try and agree on a single EU candidate for the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as French, British and Polish candidates float around to succeed Thomas Mirow - a German who wants to stay on but has no backing from Berlin.

EU aspirant Serbia has also put forward a candidate for the pan-European bank.

Finnish PM could replace Juncker as Eurogroup chief

Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has invited select EU leaders and ministers to a "winter retreat" in Finland in a potential lobbying opportunity for the top job in the eurozone.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

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