Sunday

29th May 2022

Juncker re-opens race for Eurogroup chief

  • Jean-Claude Juncker is again looking for a successor at the helm of the Eurogroup (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The head of eurozone finance ministers' meetings (the Eurogroup), Jean-Claude Juncker, has opened the race for his succession, with French finance minister Moscovici or Austrian PM Faymann seen as possible candidates.

"I informed colleagues that the intention when my mandate was renewed last July is that I would step down by the end of this year - early next year. I asked them to do everything possible to appoint another minister as chair of the Eurogroup," Juncker said on Monday (3 December) at a press conference in Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

As the EU's longest-serving Prime Minister and Eurogroup chair - a post he has held for the past seven years - Juncker has shown signs of physical fatigue and has publicly lamented his kidney stone condition.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was slated as his successor back in June, but the newly elected French President, Francois Hollande, objected to having the budget hawk orchestrate eurozone affairs.

Asked if he still finds Schaeuble a good candidate, Juncker said: "I dont have to endorse anyone, I was asking my colleagues to provide for my succession."

Meanwhile, German government sources say that Schaeuble was never really keen on the job and is now even less interested because his potential mandate would be less than one year long.

The potentially brief mandate is due to the fact that general elections are scheduled in Germany in autumn 2013 and it is unsure whether he would still be finance minister afterwards.

French finance minister Pierre Moscovici could replace Juncker, provided the German government agrees.

The relationship between the two ministers has soured over the last weeks during the negotiations on the Greek bailout and a new EU banking supervisor, however.

Concerns about France's management of its own economic woes are adding to the strains in the Franco-German relationship.

The Financial Times Deutschland reported that a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French leader Francois Hollande earlier this autumn arranged for a rotation system whereby Moscovici would get the Eurogroup job if he was then to be succeeded by a German.

But the report could not be confirmed in Berlin, while Moscovici himself said he does not know "where this comes from."

Both Moscovici and Schauble praised Juncker and said he was doing a great job.

Seasoned diplomats have said that it is not unthinkable that the Luxembourg politician carries on for another year if there is no agreement on his successor, as was already the case in July.

Meanwhile, Austrian newspaper Kurier meanwhile has reported that Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann could be a compromise solution.

His political flag - he is a Social Democrat - may also appease French concerns of having someone too pro-austerity at the helm.

The Austrian government has consistently advocated for a Prime Minister or President - as is the case with Juncker - to head the Eurogroup.

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.

Eurogroup chief: 'I'm for secret, dark debates'

Eurozone economic policies should only be conducted via "dark, secret debates", to prevent dangerous movements in financial markets, the Eurogroup chief said on Wednesday, adding that he had often lied in his career to prevent the spread of rumours that could feed speculation.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us