Edward Scicluna eyes euro area finance ministers’ top post

Maltese Finance Minister is interested in presidency of the Eurogroup when the post comes up for grabs in December although much depends on whether the 'political balance' will be maintained across EU institutions

Finance Minister Edward Scicluna is interested in the presidency of the eurogroup
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna is interested in the presidency of the eurogroup

Edward Scicluna is likely to contest the presidency of the eurogroup when euro area finance ministers make their choice next month.

The Finance Minister confirmed with MaltaToday his interest in the post currently held by Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

The eurogroup brings together the finance ministers of EU member states that have adopted the euro as their currency. The election to replace Dijsselbloem is likely to take place in December.

If elected to the post, Scicluna will remain finance minister.

However, he said much depended on whether the political groups in the European Parliament decide to maintain the political balance in the different institutions.

With all institutions currently being headed by people from the European People’s Party, the eurogroup had retained a socialist at its helm.

If this balance is maintained, Scicluna is likely to compete with two other candidates from the same political family – Portuguese finance minister Mýrio Centeno and Slovak finance minister Peter Kazimir.

“The political discussions are still underway but I confirm that I am interested,” Scicluna said from Brussels where he is attending a meeting of EU finance ministers.

Centeno and Kazimir are the favoured candidates if agreement is reached to have a socialist occupying the post.

However, Brussels observers noted that French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who forms part of Emanuel Macron's new political party in France that has not affiliated itself with any European political family, could be in pole position for the post.

Dijsselbloem’s term expires in mid-January 2018 and he cannot contest again since he no longer forms part of the Dutch cabinet after his Labour Party floundered in elections earlier this year.

Another consideration is the fact that Germany does not yet have a cabinet as coalition talks are still underway following September’s election.

With Germany being the largest economy in the EU its preference carries a lot of weight.

Scicluna is one of a few finance ministers in the EU to preside over a surplus in public finances and an economy that is performing way above the EU average. However, he has had to fend off criticism of Malta's advantageous tax regime from competing European jurisdictions that often describe the island as an offshore paradise.

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