Monday, 1 September 2008

Juncker’s successor might be Juncker

The states which use the euro are looking for a new chairman of the so-called euro group of Finance Ministers which coordinates economic policy between them. The chairman has been Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, since the beginning of 2005 and his second two-year term ends in December. According to the rules of procedure, the chairman can be reappointed only once, in other words Juncker cannot continue to hold the post. However, many European states want to change the rules to allow him to stay on. This would be relatively easy to do since the group is informal and so are its rules: no EU legislation is involved. Juncker has been Finance Minister of Luxembourg since 1989 and he is valued both for his experience and also for his ability to broke agreements between the various euro states. In addition, the other possible candidates are all unsuitable for various reasons. The Belgian Didier Reynders is no good because the Belgian “government” itself is far too unstable; the Austrian Finance Minister has ambitions to be more than a Finance Minister. Other candidates like the French or Dutch ministers would not have consensual support, while the Spanish and German ministers do not want the job. The euro group meets once a month before the monthly meeting of the EU Finance Ministers (Council of Ministers) to discuss matters pertaining specifically to the euro. Juncker’s decision to seek a third term as euro-group chairman is a direct result of the rejection of the Lisbon treaty by Irish voters in their referendum in June: had the treaty passed, then Juncker would have been a candidate for the new post of president of the European Council. But that post will not now be created, at least not until the treaty is ratified and that could take a long time or never come about. So Juncker will probably remain a Luxembourg politician in 2009, with the chairmanship of the euro group as an add-on. [Werner Mussler, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 27 July 2008]

-- From The European Journal. Sign up for FREE to John Laughland's 'Intelligence Digest' to find out what’s really happening in Europe --

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