Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Irish finance minister Donohue becomes the new head of the Eurogroup

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DIrish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe becomes the new head of the Eurogroup. In the evening, the economics and finance ministers of the euro area voted the 45-year-old economist as their new chairman in a video conference in the second round of voting until the end of 2022. The outgoing Eurogroup leader Mário Centeno said on Twitter. Donohoe prevailed over the Spanish Minister of Economy Nadia Calviño, who had been the favorite. Calviño was openly supported by all major EU countries, including Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD).

The Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna, who apparently received the least number of votes in the first round, withdrew his application for the second round. This may have contributed to Donohoe getting the most votes from the smaller euro states and thus getting a majority. The Irishman is a member of the Christian-democratic family of parties. Merkel nevertheless supported the Calviño, which belonged to the socialist government in Madrid, apparently for overriding reasons. This open German partisanship had met with a lack of understanding in smaller member states.

The Portuguese socialist Centeno had headed the body, composed of the 19 finance or economics ministers from the euro area, since January 2018. He had stepped down as finance minister of his country in June and had not run for another Eurogroup term.

The Eurogroup is an informal body with no legislative powers. Nevertheless, it is considered to be very influential because all important political decisions for monetary union are discussed and prepared there. The committee played a central role in the euro crisis in granting aid loans to needy euro countries.

The ministers also decided on the first round of Corona relief loans of EUR 540 billion. The decision on the “reconstruction fund” for the period after the corona pandemic will be made by the heads of state and government. It is unlikely that the Eurogroup will influence this decision even more.

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