Jeroen Dijsselbloem rings a bell during a Eurogroup meeting on July 10 in Brussels
The finance ministers of the 19 countries of the euro elect on Monday the president who should guide them during the work of reform of the eurozone, a charge for which the Portuguese Mário Centeno leaves as a favorite.
Elected for two and a half years, the head of the Eurogroup chairs the monthly meetings of the European single currency club, whose main objective is to coordinate national economic policies in a eurozone that, in the coming years, aspires to greater integration.
And it also represents one of the important positions in the European Union along with the presidents of the Eurocámara, Antonio Tajani; of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker; and the European Council, Donald Tusk – all conservatives – and the head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini (social democrat).
„I think the election will take place in two or three rounds,“ said a European source on the vote in the afternoon between the four candidate ministers: Centeno, his Latvian counterpart, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, the Slovak Peter Kazimir and the Luxembourgish Pierre Gramegna .
The first to gather ten of the 19 votes of his colleagues will succeed the Dutch Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chaired this intergovernmental body for five years, marked by the rescue of Greece and the debt crisis.
– Liberal in socialist government –
Mário Centeno, an independent minister within the socialist government led by António Costa in Lisbon, leaves as the favorite to succeed Dijsselbloem, who stopped being Dutch minister after the failure of his Labor party in the March legislative elections.
The Portuguese Mario Centeno gives a press conference to announce his intention to stand for the presidency of the Eurogroup, on November 30 in Lisbon
Although the Portuguese is considered a centrist and even a liberal in economic circles, the socialist affiliation of the Portuguese Executive and the absence of the candidate of the European People’s Party (PPE, right) favors his candidacy.
„I would like to thank the support of the entire socialist family for the candidate we presented to the Eurogroup presidency and his election on Monday,“ Costa said this weekend in the Belgian capital, where a meeting of the European Socialist Party was held.
Centeno would also have the support of the Greece of Alexis Tsipras (radical left), who called his candidacy „hope“, and even the „Iberian affinity“ of the Spanish minister Luis de Guindos (conservative), who was presented against Dijsselbloem in 2015 without success.
Despite belonging also to the European Social Democracy, its lack of fluency in English and its intransigence during the Greek crisis could weigh down the candidacy of the Slovak, while its opposition in the past to enter the eurozone would affect the Latvian (center-right) .
– The future of the eurozone –
The successor of the Dutchman should lead the work already launched to reform the euro zone and, in this regard, Centeno pledged on Thursday to „contribute to the formation of consensus necessary to complete the Economic and Monetary Union.“
Portuguese is „one of the candidates“ that „meets the three criteria“: „competence, experience and a vision for a more integrated euro zone,“ sources close to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday. of knowing the aspirants.
In this context, the opposition of Luxembourgers to a greater integration in fiscal matters could curb their options to lead the Eurogroup, whose first president was his compatriot Juncker (2005-2013). The latter would not welcome the election of Gramegna, according to several European sources.
The ministers, meeting with all their EU counterparts except the British, must then address this future for the euro with issues that divide them as a „budgetary capacity“ for the eurozone or the simplification of European fiscal rules.
Dijsselbloem will be in charge of reporting on the debates on December 15 at a summit of leaders in the EU, before being replaced in January by the future president of the Eurogroup.