* Says decision to replace Juncker must be discussed
* Had earlier said he was not a candidate, not campaigning
PARIS Dec 7 France's finance minister said on
Friday it was too early to speculate on his potential candidacy
to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as the new chairman of euro zone
finance ministers, but did not rule himself out.
Pierre Moscovici emerged as a candidate for the job on
Tuesday after Luxembourg's Prime Minister Juncker said he would
step down as Eurogroup chief at the end of this year or early
That gave policymakers just four weeks to find a successor
to fill a potential power vacuum.
Speaking on BFM TV earlier on Friday, Moscovici had said he
was neither campaigning nor a candidate for the job.
But in a statement to clarify his comments he said that
given Juncker had only just announced his decision any
individual steps towards the job would not be appropriate nor
"Any predictions on the subject would be premature," he
said. "The decision to replace him (Juncker) when the time comes
must be thought about collectively."
The Eurogroup has taken or prepared key decisions in the
bloc's debt crisis over the past three years, such as Greece's
debt restructuring, the creation of euro zone emergency funds
and bailouts of Ireland and Portugal.
In addition to potential candidates mentioned in connection
with the job earlier this year, some have called for a
government head to run the group, instead of a finance minister.
For many years, Juncker had both roles in Luxembourg, giving
him clout in discussions. He has headed the group since 2005.
Juncker's double role created a convenient link between the
euro zone's 17 finance ministers and its heads of state and
government, who ultimately make the most important decisions.
"It is an important responsibility to face the euro zone
crisis," Moscovici said. "France is obviously not disinterested.
It will contribute to the debate when the time comes in close
consultation with Germany and its euro zone partners," he said.
When it looked as if Juncker might step down earlier this
year, several names were put forward as potential successors.
They included German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble,
Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, who is a former finance
minister, and Mario Monti, the caretaker prime minister of
Senior German conservative lawmaker Michael Fuchs said on
Tuesday that Schaeuble should be the next head of the Eurogroup
because Germany puts up 27 percent of the financing for the euro
zone bailout funds.