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Europeans are struggling to agree on a new boss of the European Stability Mechanism

Eurozone leaders have been looking for a successor to Klaus Regling as head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) for months. A few days before the end of the mandate of the former senior German official, who is due to retire on Friday October 7 and does not wish to play the extensions, the case is still not folded. Paschal Donohoe, the president of the Eurogroup, hoped to propose a solution to his counterparts during the meeting of finance ministers of the monetary union, who are to meet in Luxembourg on Monday 3 October. But, at this stage, it seems highly unlikely that he will be able to do so.

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While prices are soaring in Europe, public debts are soaring there, the recession is looming and rates are rising, the ESM could however be led to regain a decisive role. Especially since it has a strike force of 410 billion euros. Created in 2012, when the debt crisis threatened to implode the monetary union, the institution aims to help countries whose imbalances would jeopardize the euro zone and thus prevent a crisis of market mistrust. . But it still symbolizes today, in the south of the Old Continent and especially in Italy, the trusteeship that Greece had to accept in return for the help of its European partners between 2010 and 2012.

In this context, everything related to MES is always a guarantee of complexity. The appointment of its next CEO is no exception. According to the statutes, he must be elected with at least 80% of the votes. This gives de facto a right of veto to Germany (27.1%) and France (20.4%) and a real power of nuisance to Italy (17.9%), to whom it is enough to find some allies to block the process.

Change of method

Tempted by the post, the Dutchman Menno Snel, Secretary of State for Finance from 2017 to 2019, threw in the towel, aware that the countries of the South would be opposed to appointing a representative of the so-called “frugal” countries (Austria, Denmark , Sweden, the Netherlands, attached to budgetary orthodoxy). The Italian Marco Buti, chief of staff of the European Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, for his part, was unable to convince the countries of the North.

Two other candidates were better placed: the Portuguese socialist Joao Leao, finance minister from 2020 to March 2022, and the Luxembourg liberal Pierre Gramegna, also a former treasurer from 2013 to January 2022. Berlin did not want to hear about the first and supported the second . Paris had promised Lisbon its vote but was ready not to exercise its right of veto against the Luxembourger.

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