Will Centeno change the EU's financial policy?
The Portuguese economist Mário Centeno is to become the new president of the Eurogroup. From mid-January on he will head Europe's most important financial body, which among other things takes key decisions on aid programmes and reforms for countries in crisis. Commentators welcome the fact that for the first time a Southern European, and one from the EU's former problem child Portugal to boot, is taking charge.
Centeno is just the mediator we need
Finally the countries of southern Europe are getting the chance to be in charge, Il Sole 24 Ore comments, adding that this could bring many changes:
“Centeno's election can be seen as a turning point. ... It is all the more significant because the goal in the next two years will be to reform and even reinvent and complete the construction of the Eurozone and the banking union. We will witness a bitter dispute between the preachers of stability and the prophets of development, the advocates of integration in the Eurozone and those who want intergovernmental agreements, and also between the austerity politicians and the proponents of solidarity. Centeno has the potential to be a good mediator here. The fact that he is more of a left-wing economist didn't prevent him from finding the right balance [as Portugal's finance minister] between budget consolidation and expansive social policies.”
A Portuguese triumph
For Portugal Centeno's election is another triumph in a series of successes, the web portal Protagon comments admiringly:
“The country that was represented by the first letter of the PIGS countries [Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain] and was subjected to austerity after Greece and had to fulfil the terms set by the IMF has not only emerged from its crisis but has become a symbol of economic success. ... Not only has Portugal's monitoring by its creditors come to an end, it even paid off its debts to the IMF earlier than scheduled and has registered a growth rate of 2.8 percent in 2017.”