• Battle for Eurogroup post reaches climax


    BRUSSELS: Eurozone finance ministers were to pick the replacement for Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Monday, with four countries led by Portugal battling for the challenge of guiding the eurozone currency bloc through much needed reforms.

    Finance ministers from Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Portugal have thrown their hats into the ring with a decision expected Monday afternoon when the 19 Eurogroup ministers cast their vote at a closed session in Brussels.

    The job is one of the most strategic in the European Union, tasked with guiding economic policy in the face of clashing opinions and resistance, most notably by Germany.

    The winning candidate must secure 10 votes to win.

    Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno is widely expected to take the prize, having won the support of Spain and positive signs from France and Italy, the eurozone’s second and third biggest economies. European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has also backed him.

    Also running is Slovakia’s Peter Kazimir, a strong backer of Germany’s austerity-heavy approach, but he is seen as a long shot after controversial comments about Greece during bailout talks in 2015.

    In a surprise, Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola, 36 and a chess grandmaster, is also running, though she is relatively unknown to her colleagues.

    Luxembourg’s Pierre Gramegna, a veteran diplomat, has also confirmed his candidacy, which is seen as a safety choice in case the others cancel each other out.


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