Paschal Donohoe confirms his candidacy for top EU post

Fine Gael Minister Paschal Donohoe has said he will be a “bridge-builder” if he is elected President of the Eurogroup of finance ministers.
Paschal Donohoe confirms his candidacy for top EU post

Fine Gael Minister Paschal Donohoe has said he will be a “bridge-builder” if he is elected President of the Eurogroup of finance ministers.

In his letter to his colleagues, Mr Donohoe set out his stall as to why he thinks he is the right man to take on the role.

The letter seen by the Irish Examiner makes clear Mr Donohoe is positioning himself as an “inclusive” leader at a critical juncture given the scale of the Covid-19 crisis.

“Dear colleagues, I am writing to you to put forward my candidacy to be President of the Eurogroup, and to outline my vision for our work together over the next two and a half years,” he wrote.

“The Eurozone currently faces unprecedented challenges as a result of the public health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Against this backdrop, we face a complex and challenging external environment. and a shared goal of returning our economies to sustainable growth.”

“In the course of my three years as a member of this group. we have taken many important steps to deal with legacy issues of the last crisis and to build stability and resilience in our economies and financial systems to prepare for the future.

"Some of our best discussions have been when we have taken a political approach to address our shared challenges. With your support, I am committed to building a Eurogroup that continues this approach, and is inclusive in Its work,” Mr Donohoe wrote.

He said he will act as a bridge-builder between North and South, East and West, Ins and Outs, and between larger and smaller Member States, to strengthen trust and confidence between us.

“I will act In solidarity, and In the common Interest of the Eurozone. I will be a strong pro-European voice In our discussions, both internally and with our external partners. My vision is for an effective, inclusive and transparent Eurogroup, that Is an engine for European economic recovery, prosperity and jobs,” he said.

Paraphrasing Jean Monnet, Mr Donohoe said one of the great strengths of Europe is that, by making people work together, It shows them there lies a common interest beyond their differences and geographical boundaries. I believe this Is also true of our work in the Eurogroup.

“As our focus moves to returning our economies to sustainable growth, we have a role in maintaining political will and common purpose. I also see a central role for the Eurogroup in our response to the crisis and the impacts from the recovery package, when Leaders have agreed this. This more political role the discussions we are able to have on the Eurozone and wider European economy complements our work in Ecofin,” he said.

“A key challenge will be to avoid an uneven recovery across Member States. This is clear to all of us. While the pandemic effects are symmetric, the ability of Member States to respond to them and return to growth is not.

"While I believe that primary responsibility for the management of our economies should continue to rest at national level, given the scale of the crisis and in solidarity with those worst hit I think it is important that we put our common interests first at this time. That is why I have supported going beyond normal economic policy or positions This is one of the lessons Ireland learned from the last crisis,” he added.

“Our focus must also be to ensure that recovery is sustainable and inclusive, by adopting a pro-growth agenda based on the green and digital transitions. As we chart our path through recovery, it will be important that we also agree a pathway back to the rules on State aid and the Stability and Growth Pact in the medium term, when conditions permit.

"And as part of this recovery, we must continue our work on completion of Banking Union and to make a reality of Capital Markets Union,” he said.

“In our approach to this agenda, we must look beyond the present crisis, to ensure that the recovery lifts all Member States and EU citizens. We must also ensure we have the right mix of policies and instruments to provide resilience and strengthen our economies to weather future shocks.

"Effectively communicating to our citizens and to the European Parliament the steps we are taking in the Euro area will be a priority of my term,” he added.

“We will also need to deepen our engagement with a range of global partners, including the United States and the United Kingdom. Brexit will bring a unique set of challenges for the European economy and we need to be ready,” he said.

“This is a challenging agenda. We will doubtless face difficult political and economic choices, but we will make them together. I will work to build the trust and confidence necessary to find agreement. Mine will be a shared agenda; I will not pursue a national or regional agenda, as Ireland's record of EU Presidencies will attest.

"When we build trust among us, we create the space for our deputies to better manage the technical work. This will be at the heart of my working methods,” he said.

Earlier: Paschal Donohoe submits nomination to be next President of the Eurogroup

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has formally entered the race to be the next President of the Eurogroup.

The group of Finance Ministers from countries that use the Euro has a lot of sway over European monetary policy.

Spain's Finance Minister is thought to be the biggest competition to Paschal Donohoe for the role.

To be able to contest it he will need to remain Finance Minister after this weekend's events around government formation.

Announcing his nomination, Mr Donohoe said: "The Eurogroup is the economic engine room for the Eurozone and the single currency which Ireland shares with 18 other EU partners.

"It is playing a leading role in the EU’s economic response to Covid-19. A strong European economy, with the Euro at its heart, is essential for recovery, growth and job-creation in Ireland and across the EU."

A Government statement said that if elected, Mr Donohoe "will be a strong Irish and European voice at the centre of EU economic policy decision-making, and will work closely with Member States and with the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the European Parliament, in the European interest."

Mr Donohoe added: "Ireland has long been a bridge builder.

"If elected, I will work to chart a common way forward on building the European recovery, strengthening the Eurozone economy, and promoting sustainable and inclusive growth for Member States and their citizens.

"I would bring to this task four years’ experience as Minister Public Expenditure and Reform and Minister for Finance, having also served as Minister for European Affairs for Ireland; a small Member State that has been a Programme country but which has also seen its economy and society transformed beyond recognition through EU membership."

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