Juncker becomes EU’s first ‘Mr Euro’

Eurozone finance ministers have named
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as the first
‘Mr. Euro’, a job intended to give the 12 countries using the
common currency a single, stronger voice.

Eurozone finance ministers have named
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as ‘Mr.
Euro’. The appointment was announced after a monthly
Eurogroup meeting in the Hague on 10 September. Austrian
Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser was given the post of
vice-president of the group. 

Juncker, who is both Luxembourg’s
Prime Minister and Finance Minister, will provide a link
between the eurozone and the European Central Bank and
will chair the monthly meetings of the group. He will
also represent the interests of the eurozone at
international meetings, including Group of Eight talks.
As the political face of the single currency, or “Mr
Euro”, Juncker told reporters that he would try to
improve the shaky record of economic co-ordination among
governments in the 12-member currency bloc. 

Juncker will take over as president of
the Eurogroup on 1 January and hold the post for two
years – replacing the current system whereby ministers
from eurozone countries rotate every six
months. 

The creation of a ‘Mr.Euro’ position
is foreseen in the draft Constitutional Treaty to improve
economic coordination. European Central Bank chief
Jean-Claude Trichet said on 11 September he was still the
real ‘Mr Euro’ despite the appointment of Juncker as the
political face of the eurozone. “The European Central
Bank is responsible for the euro, and Mr Juncker (will
be) responsible for the presidency of the euro group,
which is the grouping of the ministers,” Trichet
said. 

Unwilling to give up his domestic
responsibilities, Juncker earlier declined a nomination
for the position of Commission president. While
exercising his role as ‘Mr Euro’, Juncker will keep his
national roles of prime minister and finance
minister.

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