FILE - In this Friday, May 25, 2018 file photo, Luxembourg's Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna, left, speaks with Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe during a meeting of EU finance ministers at the Europa building in Brussels. The powerful group of countries using Europe's single currency will choose a new president on Thursday, July 9, 2020, with three candidates vying for the challenging task of leading the 19-nation bloc out of the deepest economic recession in decades. The candidates for Eurogroup president are Spain's Economy Minister Nadia Calvino, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Luxembourg's Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

Ireland's Donohoe named head of eurozone finance group

July 09, 2020 - 12:36 pm

BRUSSELS (AP) —

Ireland's Paschal Donohoe was elected Thursday to head the finance group of the powerful bloc of 19 nations using Europe’s single currency, beating out challengers from Luxembourg and Spain.

The announcement came in a tweet from incumbent Eurogroup President Mario Centeno, which said: “Congratulations to the new Eurogroup President” and contained a photo of Donohoe.

As president of the Eurogroup for the next two and a half years, Donohoe, who is currently Ireland's finance minister, faces a mammoth task chaperoning the eurozone through what is predicted to be Europe’s deepest recession in almost a century, as the coronavirus ravages economies around the world.

Centeno, from Portugal, announced last month that he was stepping down after completing his term. Donohoe will start work in his new post on Monday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The group of countries using Europe’s single currency will choose a new president on Thursday, with three candidates vying for the challenging task of leading the 19-nation bloc out of the deepest economic recession in decades.

The candidates for Eurogroup president are Spain’s Economy Minister Nadia Calviño, who could become the first woman to secure the top job; Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe; and his Luxembourg counterpart Pierre Gramegna, the most experienced of the three.

The winner will be chosen by their peers in a secret ballot by a simple majority of at least 10 of the 19 ministers, with the candidates themselves taking part in voting. A runoff round between the two top scoring candidates will be held if no one wins outright.

Because it’s a virtual meeting, voting will take place through an encrypted web-based app and only a few officials organizing the ballot will actually know how many votes each candidate receives. The tallies will not be made public.

The incumbent, Portugal’s Mario Centeno, announced on June 11 that he was stepping down as president after completing his 2.5-year term. His successor will take office next Monday.

In a video statement ahead of the meeting, Centeno said he would be leaving the post in good hands.

“We have three excellent candidates,” he said. “This tight race and these levels of applications shows the Eurogroup is more important and influential than ever.”

The Eurogroup’s main task is to ensure the close coordination of economic policies among the 19 member countries. While an unofficial body in EU terms, it remains extremely powerful and its image was badly tainted in Greece for its handling of the country’s debt crisis.

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