Eurogroup election delayed to July by Greek crisis

The election of the next president of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers has been delayed until July because of the Greek crisis, current head and candidate Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Wednesday.

Dutch finance minister Dijsselbloem and Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos are the only ones in the running to head the Eurogroup, one of the biggest players in the debt talks with Greece.

The next meeting of the finance ministers from all 19 countries that use the single currency is set for Thursday in Luxembourg and will be overshadowed by the effort to reach agreement on the release of new bailout funds for Greece.

“I will propose to Eurogroup to hold the election in July. Greece requires all attention,” Dijsselbloem said in a tweet.

Dijsselbloem and de Guindos face a vote by their peers with each making their motivation letters public this week ahead of Thursday’s meeting, when the vote had initially been expected.

The Dutch finance minister is the frontrunner, having led the group of ministers through the debt crisis storms since taking over the post from current European Commissioner head and former Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker in January 2013.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last year that Berlin would back the Spaniard for the post and French Finance Minister Michel Sapin praised de Guindos during a visit to Spain last month but stopped short of formally backing him for the post.

Dijsselbloem was first elected in 2013 to replace Juncker, who held the job for eight years.

As chair of the Eurogroup the Dutch minister has led difficult talks with Greece over the country’s bailout package.

De Guindos can claim to have overseen an improvement in Spain’s economy, which emerged in mid-2013 from a double-dip recession sparked by a 2008 property crash, and is now enjoying a gradual pickup although the unemployment rate still stands at 23.8 percent.



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