July 10, 2020 / 9:55 AM / a month ago

Spain's Calvino says one country broke pledge in Eurogroup vote

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on Friday that one euro zone country had broken its pledge to support her in her bid to become Eurogroup chief, seen by some at home as a sign of Spain’s weakness in the EU.

FILE PHOTO: Spain's Deputy Prime Minister and Economic Affairs Minister Nadia Calvino attends an European Union finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

“We had 10 votes secured. Someone didn’t do what he said he was going to do,” Calvino told radio station SER on Friday. She declined to say who she thinks the person was.

The Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers on Thursday elected Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe as its new chair after a second round in which he defeated Calvino by one vote.

Calvino had secured the support of the euro zone’s three largest countries, France, Germany and Italy, and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had publicly said he was optimistic that she would get the job.

Sanchez’s victory in national and European elections, which gave Spain the biggest Socialist contingent in the European Parliament, had triggered hopes of a bigger Spanish role in the European Union.

But the right-leaning newspaper El Mundo described Calvino’s defeat as “a failure that weakens Spain”, partly blaming Sanchez for lobbying larger countries at the expense of smaller ones, which carry the same votes.

Ana Beltran, vice secretary of the conservative People’s Party, called it “clear proof of Spain’s weakness”.

Spain had already given up on the idea of putting forward Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya as a candidate to lead the World Trade Organisation.

Calvino rejected the criticism, saying that the countries supporting her represented more than 80% of the euro zone population and economies.

Donohoe has in the past opposed government spending increases and deficits. Unlike Spain, Ireland opposes any EU tax on digital firms. “The vision of Europe that that country has doesn’t match the one we have,” Calvino said.

Reporting by Inti Landauro, Belen Carreno, Ingrid Melander, Nathan Allen; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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