The Irish Times view on the Eurogroup presidency

Finance minister Paschal Donohoe has support for a second term in the job, but the story still has some way to run

Several of his European colleagues have welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe that he will seek a second term as President of the Eurogroup, indicating that he is in a strong position to retain the role when the ministers vote at their next meeting in early December. There appears a strong chance that he will be unopposed for the role, though Dublin’s eyes are cast nervously towards Madrid, where finance minister Nadia Calvino was runner-up when Mr Donohoe was first elected in 2020. But early endorsements from the Dutch and the Belgians, as well as supportive noises from several other countries including some large member states, would seem to bode well for the Irish man. Certainly, his customary careful preparation and cautious approach would suggest that Donohoe is unlikely to make a bid for the role without a reasonable chance of success.

His appointment for a second term would represent an endorsement from his colleagues of Donohoe’s stewardship of the powerful group of euro zone finance ministers for the past two years. It would also be a significant diplomatic achievement, given that Donohoe will no longer be Minister for Finance after mid-December due to the switch in the Taoiseach’s office and the swap of the departments of public expenditure and finance between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

In the coming weeks, he will have to convince his colleague members of the group that Ireland can have two attendees at the table – its Minister for Finance (almost certainly current Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath) and Donohoe, who would be an independent chair. This is stretching the Eurogroup’s rules, but not beyond breaking point. There is a precedent for the arrangement, dating from the time Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker chaired the group with that country’s finance minister in attendance too. To follow in his footsteps would be a demonstration that Donohoe is a significant player at the top table of EU politics. It would also be a big win for Ireland. But the deal is not yet over the line.