The president of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem (d), talks with Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno during a meeting in Brussels on November 6, 2017
Ten days after the election of the successor of the Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem as president of the Eurogroup, phone calls are multiplying among European capitals and several names are beginning to emerge, including the Spanish Luis de Guindos and the Portuguese Mário Centeno.
The election „is very open,“ summarizes a senior European official, recalling that in principle the only requirement to aspire to this prestigious position is to be a minister in office, although other factors will also influence, such as nationality, political family or experience. .
Elected for two and a half years, the president of the Eurogroup chairs the monthly meetings of this body that brings together the finance ministers of the 19 countries of the euro and whose main objective is the coordination of national economic policies.
The successor of Dijsselbloem will assume the position in the heat of debate on how to reform the Eurozone.
„You need someone with experience, because it is a key moment, in which you have to make complicated decisions,“ say sources at the French Ministry of Finance.
Interested ministers have until November 30 to appear and, a day later, their names will be made public, according to the procedure unveiled by Labor Dijsselbloem, who stopped being Dutch minister after his electoral failure in March.
The election will take place on December 4 in the framework of a Eurogroup and the first to get the support of 10 of the 19 ministers will be its new president, but it is not ruled out that the Europeans agree on a single candidate before and avoid voting.
– De Guindos, a conservative option –
Nobody doubts that the presidency of the Eurogroup also weighed in the balance during the negotiation of the last days that took to the adjudication at the beginning of week to Paris and Amsterdam of the two community agencies that will have to leave London by the Brexit.
The large list of presidential candidates in recent weeks seems to start to decline with the apparent departure of some potential stakeholders, such as the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, who seems that it would not have mattered to meet both functions despite not being a minister.
His compatriot, the French minister Bruno Le Maire, who „makes many calls at the moment“, will not be a candidate, since he wants to defend the positions of his president, the socioliberal Emmanuel Macron, for the euro zone without playing the role of mediator, according to the sources of the French ministry.
The only two ministers openly interested, the Luxembourg-based Liberal Pierre Gramegna and the Slovak social democrat Peter Kazimir, appear to be currently retreating.
In addition to the Austrian Hans Jörg Schelling, the Spaniard Luis de Guindos, who ran in vain against Dijsselbloem in 2015, could count on the support of his numerous conservative political family and appears as a serious candidate, although in recent months he has reiterated that you do not want to show up
„De Guindos will not be a candidate,“ according to a source from the Spanish Ministry of Economy. Among the next positions to be divided in the EU, Spain has in fact the look put in the vice-presidency of the European Central Bank, currently chaired by the Italian Mario Draghi.
His belonging to the conservative family could, in turn, pose a problem, especially when three of the five major posts in the EU are occupied by right-wing personalities: the presidency of the European Parliament, the European Council and the Commission, the executive community
– Rye, on the left –
The finance ministers of Portugal, Mario Centeno (i), and Luxembourg, Pierre Gramegna, at a meeting of the Eurogroup in Brussels on November 6, 2017
„The Socialists consider that the presidency of the Eurogroup continues being for them“, explains a diplomatic source.
With the departure of Dijsselbloem, the head of European diplomacy, the Italian Federica Mogherini, would be the only representative with weight of this political family.
In this context, two names appear on the left: the Italian Minister Pier Carlo Padoan and his Portuguese counterpart Mário Centeno. Regarding the latter, the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, said they will make the decision „when the time comes.“
The former takes into account his experience, but the huge Italian debt, the uncertainty linked to the upcoming elections in his country and the presence of several compatriots in important positions, such as Draghi or Mogherini, hampered an eventual candidacy.
Centeno, on the other hand, would meet the criteria and benefits, according to a European source, from the support of the head of the community executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, although the high Portuguese public could play against him.
Another option evoked by some sources would be to redirect Dijsselbloem for a period of „six months or a year“, while progress is being made in the reforms of the euro zone, especially in the idea of a finance superintendent who combines the positions of European commissioner and President of the Eurogroup.
The succession of the Dutchman, who said to leave the politics of his country, will thus possibly pass through a southern European minister, where some of his statements implying that these countries spent their money on alcohol and women during the crisis did not sit too well .