The president of the Eurogroup, Portuguese finance minister Mário Centeno is reported to not be likely to seek a second term when his first period in office runs out in July. A report in the influential Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung on Friday raises the intriguing possibility that the Irish Government could nominate Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe as a replacement to head up the informal but influential group of the bloc's finance ministers. This would, of course, require a new government to be formed in the weeks ahead and for Donohoe to retain his current position.
For this kind of position a delicate decision must be made before nominating a candidate – which is that they must have a good chance of winning. As such. the race to take the job, which is likely to be important in shaping the response to the crisis, has still to start playing out. And first Centeno – who faced some criticism after a recent 16-hour marathon meeting with ministers to try to agree a response to the crisis – needs to formally signal his intentions.
If he does, the German report points to Spanish minister of economy and finance, Nadia Calviño, as the front-runner and it appears that she is already canvassing for the job. A southern European candidate may again be favoured and as a former director general in the European Commission, Ms Calviño is familiar with the workings of Brussels. A second name mentioned is Luxembourg finance minister Pierre Gramegna, who lost out to Centeno last time.
While it is possible that the Spanish minister could find majority acceptance, the German paper reports that her role in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development means she may not have universal support. If her candidacy does not look like flying, then the Government could move to nominate Donohoe.
He would have links with both the ministers from the northern and souther countries. Ireland has cooperated with the so-called Hanseatic countries in recent years – the group including the Netherlands, Scandinavia and some eastern and central European countries. More recently Donohoe backed France, Italy and Spain in the coronabond debate. Along with the chief economist position at the ECB, held by Philip Lane, it would put Irish people in two very significant positions in responding to this massive economic crisis.