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Eurogroup to decide on ESM chief at Luxembourg meeting

Eurogroup finance ministers met in Brussels on Monday, including Luxembourg's Yuriko Backes (in red). Photo: EU Council.

After two rounds of voting three candidates remained in the race on Monday night for the position of director-general of the European Stability Mechanism. Eurogroup finance ministers now plan to make their final decision during their 16 June meeting in Luxembourg.

The Netherlands withdrew its candidate, Menno Snel, after the first, indicative round of voting on Monday, leaving former Luxembourg finance minister Pierre Gramegna as a candidate, together with Italian European Commission official Marco Buti and former Portuguese finance minister Joao Leao.

Gramegna is said to have good cards, given his experience, although he would have to win the support from southern European countries who are now divided. Italy’s Buti also is seen as an experienced candidate, while Leao, with 48 years, is the youngest of the three remaining.

“We will continue further informal consultations with a view to add to reaching an agreement at the ESM Board of Governors meeting on the 16th of June,” Eurogroup chair Paschal Donohoe said after the meeting.

Budget 'escape clause' stays activated

Eurozone finance ministers on Monday also endorsed an extension of what is know as the 'general escape clause' for the Eurozone rules on budget deficits, against the backdrop of the economic shock caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"This decision doesn't change our objective of progressively shifting our fiscal stance from supportive this year to neutral next year," Donohoe said at the press conference. "There is broad agreement amongst ministers that we need to strive to continue to make our budgetary policies and decisions as sustainable as possible in this uncertain environment. So we will be following up on the discussion today in more depth in the next couple of months. The policy trade-offs are very complex and we will take the time necessary to get the policy balance right."

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