Juncker to step down as Eurogroup head by year’s end
By Sarah Collins | Tuesday 10 July 2012
Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker has been handed another two-and-a-half year term at the helm of the Eurogroup of 17 finance ministers, a move designed to ease tensions between Germany and France over who will succeed him. After a marathon meeting of eurozone finance ministers, on 9 July, Juncker said he intended to step down at the end of the year, paving the way for the seat to be shared between German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici for the remainder of the term.
“It is not my intention to fulfill this mandate in all its length,” Juncker told reporters after the meeting. “I will step down, and I informed colleagues about that, well before the end of the mandate period, by the end of this year or by the beginning of next year,” he said.
The deal was sealed after a round of horse trading between France, Germany, Spain and Luxembourg over seats on the Eurogroup, the European Central Bank’s Executive Board and the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone’s future rescue fund. The ECB seat will now be filled by Luxembourg’s Central Bank Governor, Yves Mersch, who fought off Spain’s Antonio Sainz de Vicuna, head of the ECB’s legal department, and Slovenia’s Development Minister Mitja Gaspari, for the post. The ESM will be led by Germany’s Klaus Regling, who is currently head of the European Financial Stability Facility, the temporary rescue fund that is part-funding bailouts in Ireland, Portugal and Greece. Regling’s appointment comes as a surprise after he was told earlier this year that he would not be able to continue at the helm of the rescue fund if Germany took over chairmanship of the Eurogroup.