Saturday

24th Feb 2018

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.

Baltic states demand bigger EU budget

The leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania say in a joint letter that they are open to talks on creating "new own resources" for a bigger EU budget after the UK leaves the EU.

EU-Latin America trade talks move to 'endgame'

Senior negotiators in the EU-Mercosur talks will meet in Brussels on Friday to work out the technical bits of a possible trade deal, after top political officials gave the talks a final push.

Opinion

Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme

Growth predictions are positive, exports increasing, unemployment dropping and credit-ratings up, says the head of Greece's Syriza delegation to the European Parliament. Now the government in Athens is looking to design its own reform programme.

Analysis

We are not (yet) one people

Talks on the next EU budget will start on Friday. Brussels wants to do much more than before – and needs a lot more money. But arguing about funds won't be enough.

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