o te la fan?
MEET THE NEW EUROGROUP PRESIDENT, Ireland’s Paschal Donohoe. His fellow finance ministers elected Donohoe in a secret ballot conducted online. He prevailed over Spain’s Nadia Calviño and Luxembourg’s Pierre Gramegna with a majority vote. Donohoe will begin his two-and-a-half-year term on Sunday, succeeding Mário Centeno of Portugal.
GOOD MORNING. It’s one of these rare occasions in politics when there’s a more interesting question than how Donohoe eventually made it into high office. Playbook can only imagine the number of profiles of the presumptive front-runner Calviño that went straight into the bin Thursday evening. So how did she manage to lose?
THE STATE OF EU FISCAL POLICIES: Didn’t the Spanish finance minister tick many boxes, from having prominent supporters in big EU countries, to years of high-level experience in the Brussels machine room, to being the only woman running for the job — and a very highly qualified one at that?
1. Small is powerful, for once: It’s not often in the EU that every country gets an equal say, regardless of its size. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire came out publicly as a Calviño fan only hours before the ballot; Germany, Italy and her own Spain publicly backed her too. And so the first of Calviño’s strengths turned into a weakness.
2. Revenge is sweet: Calviño, back in 2018, refused to respond to a discussion paper issued by some frugal countries (back then known as the “Hanseatic league”), saying it was the work of “small countries with small weight.”
3. Middle ground isn’t Calviño’s home territory: During the negotiations on the first part of the corona recovery measures, she acted very much as Spain’s finance minister, and not as a candidate for the presidency of the whole group of 19, according to EU diplomats.
4. The MFF is looming: Donohoe made it clear in a POLITICO interview that he would try to secure the task of defining the legal details of the grand decisions made by leaders on recovery money for the Eurogroup. As a result, according to several diplomats, he secured the votes of the north, Benelux, but also of the east.
5. Throuple issues: Those votes for the Irishman suggest the north — I’m purposefully simplifying — seized a chance it saw in the fight for the money between the south and east. Which is a battle yet to come, as Bjarke Smith-Meyer reports.
10-VII-20 politico Brussels Playbook