The new Eurogroup president, Ireland’s Paschal Donohoe, seen at a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels in May last year, is known to be fiscally prudent and opposed to an EU digital tax.
Photo: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock
Eurozone finance ministers elected Paschal Donohoe from Ireland as their new president in a secret ballot conducted online on Thursday evening.
It was second time unlucky for Luxembourg’s finance minister Pierre Gramegna (DP) on Thursday as he again lost out on his bid to become the president of the Eurogroup. Gramegna was a candidate for the Eurogroup presidency in the autumn of 2017, when Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem stepped down, but lost out to Portuguese finance minister Mário Centeno.
When Centeno announced in June that he would not be seeking a second term, the field was open for Gramegna to put forward his candidacy once again. This time he was up against Donohoe and the early favourite, Spain’s Nadia Calviño.
But at an online summit of the Eurozone finance ministers on Thursday, Donohoe emerged as the winner after a first round of voting proved inconclusive.
Gramegna offered congratulations to his Irish counterpart and said he look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role. “The campaign to succeed Mario Centeno showed that the Eurogroup is an essential and fundamental body in European architecture,” Gramegna said in a statement issued on Thursday evening. “Through my candidacy, I wanted to broaden the debate on future issues and ensure that all points of view were heard, in the spirit of bringing more convergence and contributing to consensus at a crucial time for Europe. The role of the president will be to find solutions that will put us all on the right track and allow us to move forward with agreement.”
45-year old Donohoe has been Ireland’s finance minister since 2017. According to Reuters, he is dubbed “Prudent Paschal” by some local media in Ireland. That prudency paid off in 2018 when he delivered Ireland’s first budget surplus since the the financial crisis. Donohoe has also voiced strong opposition to any idea of a potential EU tax on digital firms. Like Gramegna, he prefers a more global approach to digital taxation through the OECD.
"My immediate priority, as President, will be to chart a common way forward on building the European recovery, strengthening the Eurozone economy, and promoting sustainable and inclusive growth for Member States and their citizens," Donohoe said in a statement following his election. "Across the EU our citizens are looking to us to provide the necessary leadership." He also added some context that could please Luxembourg as one of the smaller member states of the Eurozone. "I will bring to the table Ireland’s experience as a small Member State that has been a Programme country but which has also seen its economy and society transformed through EU membership."
Donohoe will take up post on Monday 13 July and will serve a two and half year mandate until the end of 2022. The first Eurogroup meeting under Paschal Donohoe's presidency is currently planned for 11 September 2020.