By Nathan Allen
MADRID (Reuters) – Spain has proposed its Economy Minister Nadia Calvino to head the influential Eurogroup of 19 euro zone finance ministers, the government said on Thursday, becoming the first country to formally announce a candidate.
Calvino, also a deputy prime minister in Spain’s left-wing coalition government, had been tipped as a front-runner, though Luxembourg’s socialist finance minister Pierre Gramegna and centre-right Irish counterpart Pascal Donohoe are other potential candidates.
Proposals for the new Eurogroup chair, who will play a major role in designing policies for economic recovery after the coronavirus crisis, must be submitted by the end of Thursday ahead of a confirmation vote planned for July 9.
“It would be an honour for the Spanish Government, and for me as its president, if Nadia Calvino were to take on the Presidency,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a tweet.
“For the first time, Spain and a woman would lead this institution,” he said.
Confirming her candidature via Twitter, Calvino, a 51-year old economist who previously served as director general for the European Commission’s community budget, said she would work for a prosperous euro area to the benefit of all Europeans.
The post has been vacant since Portuguese Finance Minister Mario Centeno announced earlier in June that he would not seek a second 2 1/2 year term.
Filling the position fits into a broader round of negotiations for top European Union posts that aims to strike a balance between different political leanings and regions.
Madrid has long held ambitions of chairing the group, but also has designs on leadership of the World Trade Organisation for Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya.
The Eurogroup’s leader plays a crucial role in hammering out compromises on regional economic policies and chairs the board of the euro zone bailout fund.
(Reporting by Nathan Allen, Belén Carreño and Emma Pinedo; Editing by Toby Chopra)