Juncker to head euro zone for a new term

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Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker looks set to be re-elected next month as chairman of eurozone finance ministers for a term of two-and-a-half years, officials said on Tuesday (1 December). 

Juncker presides over meetings of the Eurogroup – a monthly session of finance ministers from the 16 euro area countries and the European Commission in which European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet also takes part. 

“We all agreed that in January the Eurogroup president [chairman] will be elected for two-and-a-half years,” Juncker told a news conference after a meeting of the ministers. 

The issue of Eurogroup chairmanship has come up because of the entry into force of the European Union’s Lisbon reform treaty on 1 December. 

Under the treaty, the Eurogroup chairman is to be elected for two-and-a-half years rather than two years as before. 

“There is absolutely no doubt that he will be elected president of the Eurogroup for the next two and a half years,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters before the meeting, referring to Juncker. 

The finance ministers also will choose a new vice-president for the European Central Bank in January, with a mid-December deadline for candidates to come forward, the head of the Eurogroup said.

Juncker said the 16 ministers would select a successor to Lucas Papademos, whose term expires in 2010, at the start of next year and their choice would be endorsed by state leaders at a meeting in March.

“We have discussed that issue,” Juncker told journalists.

“We will as the Eurogroup try to take a decision in January allowing us to enable the European Council to decide upon this matter during its March session,” he said. 

(EURACTIV with Reuters.)

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