June 25, 2020 / 3:56 PM / 2 months ago

Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg bid to chair euro zone finance ministers

BRUSSELS, June 25 (Reuters) - Finance ministers of Spain, Ireland and Luxembourg are in the running to chair meetings of euro zone finance ministers, the outgoing chairman Mario Centeno of Portugal said on Thursday.

The chairman sets the agenda at monthly meetings of finance ministers of the 19 countries sharing the euro, called the Eurogroup, and works out compromises on key policies.

The job goes to one of the sitting finance ministers for 2 1/2 years, a term that can be renewed. On July 9th the ministers will choose between Nadia Calvino of Spain, Pascal Donohoe of Ireland and Pierre Gramegna of Luxembourg.

“This excellent pool of candidates shows the relevance of Eurogroup today to ensure stability/prosperity in the euro area,” Centeno said on Twitter.

The Eurogroup president also chairs the board of the euro zone bailout fund — the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) — which saved Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus from bankruptcy during the sovereign debt crisis.

The successful candidate must get the support of at least 10 out of the 19 finance ministers around the table. Each country has one vote, so the voice of the biggest, Germany, counts the same as that of the smallest, Malta.

The job is part of the broader horse-trading of top posts in the EU that seeks to keep a balance between positions taken up by centre-right and centre-left parties, the north and the south, east and west as well as large and small EU countries. (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)

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