Paschal Donohoe’s election as Eurogroup president ‘a great win for Ireland’, says Taoiseach

Minister for Finance pledges to ‘work night and day’ to deliver home and European roles

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the foundation of his work as president of the Eurogroup is the work he will do nationally in Ireland. Photograph: Sam Boal/

The 19 finance ministers of the euro zone have elected Paschal Donohoe to be the president of their influential Eurogroup, giving Ireland a significant platform as the European Union debates how to handle the economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The successful bid means that Mr Donohoe will have the role of chairing and setting the agenda for discussions among the euro zone finance ministers, as well as setting the long-term agenda for the influential group.

Congratulating him on the win, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said his election was “a great win for Ireland”.

He said Mr Donohoe will be “at the helm chairing a very influential and important group”.


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it was a “singular personal achievement” for Mr Donohoe.

“It is something that I think is very good for Ireland because it means that we will be in the room when important decisions are made about the Euro and the future of the Euro. And if we are going to succeed here in Ireland economically we need Europe and the Eurozone to do well.”

“ I am more confident today than I was on other days that we are going to be going in the right direction when it comes to making sure that we strengthen and deepen economic and monetary union to the benefit of citizens all over Europe.”

Mr Varadkar said Mr Donohoe commanded supports from “all corners of Europe”.

Speaking after the announcement, Mr Donohoe said he would work “night and day” to deliver both his national responsibilities as Minister for Finance and the responsibility of his new role.


He said the foundation of his work as president of the Eurogroup is the work he will do nationally in Ireland.

“It is the foundation of being involved as a national minister for finance that allows you to do your work as president of the Eurogroup. Both jobs will enrich the other.”

On the issue of taxation, Mr Donohoe said Ireland’s national position is “very, very clear”.

“During the campaign when I was asking for the vote of colleagues, they understood what our national position on these matters were. But every colleague that I engaged with had a national position on issues that really mattered to them. And that is the way the European project works.”

“What I will do is continue to find the balance between national interest here in Ireland, that will not change, and trying to find an equilibrium between them and what is right for Europe and for Ireland overall.”

Mr Donohoe also said agreement must be reached on the EU recovery fund.

Canvassing for th role, Mr Donohoe had argued that he would bring a unique perspective as Ireland straddles the north-south divides on economic policy in the EU, as a country that underwent a bailout, and allies with northern countries on some issues and Mediterranean countries on others.

His bid beat out the Spanish candidate Nadia Calvino, who had been favoured by France, Germany and some Mediterranean countries as an economist with experience working within the EU institutions who would make the argument for a generous response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The third candidate Luxembourg finance minister Pierre Gramenga, who like Mr Donohoe pitched himself as a bridge-builder, was eliminated in the first round of voting resulting in a Irish-Spanish runoff.

While an informal grouping, the Eurogroup can be highly influential in setting EU policy and played a key role during the euro zone crisis of the last decade. Mr Donohoe takes over from the outgoing president, Portuguese finance minister Mario Centeno.

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times