The 19 finance ministers of the euro zone are due to vote on their new chief at a meeting Monday – a key moment to understand what direction the monetary union might take in the near future.
The vote is important, not only because the new president of the Eurogroup will be faced with key decisions, such as debt restructuring for Greece, but also because it will clear the path to understand who might head the European Central Bank after Mario Draghi.
At the moment, Portugal’s Finance Minister Mario Centeno is seen as the most likely person to replace Jeroen Dijsselbloem as head of the Eurogroup.
Dijsselbloem is leaving the post in January after losing his position as finance minister in the Netherlands following elections earlier this year. The new head of the Eurogroup needs to be a sitting finance minister from the euro area and needs to strike a balance between nationalities and political affiliations.
Centeno seems to fit such criteria. He is from the Socialist Party in Portugal, and because currently the majority of the big European positions are in the hands of the center-right, his political membership becomes a plus; the Portuguese economy has been growing at a strong pace since he began leading the Finance Ministry in 2015; and he is perceived as a good professional among his European colleagues.
According to the Financial Times, the leaders of Italy, Portugal, France and Germany met at the sidelines of an EU Summit in the Ivory Coast Wednesday and the consensus was Centeno was best placed to take on the leadership of the Eurogroup.
Ministers have until midday Thursday to send in their nominations and the final names will be revealed Friday morning. If there is more than one nomination, a vote will take place on Monday in Brussels between the 19 finance ministers.
The Spanish minister, Luis de Guindos, was seen as a potential candidate to replace Dijsselbloem. He has previously run against the Dutchman in the last election for the presidency, but ruled himself out earlier this week. Instead, he said that Spain was more interested in the vice-presidency of the European Central Bank – which becomes vacant next May.
Other names floating around in the corridors of Brussels in the past few months have been the Slovak Finance Minister Peter Kazimir, the French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and the Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna.
Euro zone finance ministers to vote on their new chief – here’s all you need to know