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Spain puts forth candidate to lead powerful eurozone group

Last Updated Jun 25, 2020 at 6:44 am EDT

FILE - In this Monday, July 8, 2019 file photo, Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino, left, speaks with President of the eurogroup Mario Centeno during a meeting of the europgroup at the Europa building in Brussels. Spain on Thursday, June 25, 2020 nominated Economy Minister Nadia Calvino as the next head of the 19-nation Eurogroup, one of the EU's most powerful bodies. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

BRUSSELS — Spain on Thursday nominated Economy Minister Nadia Calviño to be the next head of the Eurogroup, an unofficial but powerful body that oversees the financial policies of the 19 nations using Europe’s single currency.

Should she be named Eurogroup president, Calviño — a respected economist well known to European Union officials — would be the first woman to hold the job. She would take over from Portugal’s Mario Centeno who announced on June 11 that he was stepping down after completing his 2.5-year term.

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and his Luxembourg counterpart Pierre Gramegna were also thought to be in the running.

The person named to the Eurogroup’s top job faces a mammoth task chaperoning the euro currency bloc through what is predicted to be Europe’s deepest recession in a century, as the coronavirus ravages economies around the world.

Eurogroup finance ministers will discuss the nominations submitted Thursday at their next video meeting on July 9. Presidents are elected by a simple majority vote. Centeno will step down three days later.

“We will strike the right balance, but with one idea in mind, to elect a president that can handle all goals and challenges in the coming months and years. The choice will not be trivial, it will be of high quality,” Centeno said

The Eurogroup’s main task is to ensure the close co-ordination of economic policies among the 19 member countries. While an unofficial body in EU terms, it remains extremely powerful and its image was badly tainted in Greece for its handling of the country’s debt crisis.

The Associated Press

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