Ireland's Donohoe named head of eurozone finance group

Ireland’s Paschal Donohoe has been elected to head the finance group of the powerful bloc of 19 nations using Europe’s single currency

BRUSSELS -- 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 outgoing Eurogroup President Mario Centeno, which said: “Congratulations to the new Eurogroup President” and contained a photo of the two men.

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.

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.

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, and is set to chair his first meeting on Sept. 11.

The other candidates were Luxembourg Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna and Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calviño. None secured the minimum 10 votes required to win outright and a runoff round was needed, with Gramegna dropping out. The voting tallies were not made public.

Donohoe said on Twitter that he was “deeply honored" to have been elected.

“I look forward to working with all of my Eurogroup colleagues in the years ahead to ensure a fair and inclusive recovery for all as we meet the challenges ahead with determination,” wrote Donohoe, who became Irish finance minister three years ago.

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.

Calviño, who was running to become the first even woman to hold the top job, tweeted her congratulations to Donohoe, saying that she is “looking forward to working together to ensure a robust recovery that leaves no one behind.”