Tuesday

2nd Jun 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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.

News in Brief

  1. Trump threatens to use army to crush unrest in US
  2. Trump wants Russia back in G7-type group
  3. Iran: Fears of second wave as corona numbers rise again
  4. WHO: Overuse of antibiotics to strengthen bacterial resistance
  5. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  6. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  7. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  8. France reopening bars and parks next week

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Malta fiddles on migrants, as Libya burns
  2. Borrell: EU doesn't need to choose between US and China
  3. Post-Brexit and summer travel talks This WEEK
  4. State-level espionage on EU tagged as 'Very High Threat'
  5. Beethoven vs Virus: How his birthplace Bonn is coping
  6. EU's new migration pact must protect people on the move
  7. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  8. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us