The Straits Times
Published on Dec 04, 2012

Juncker says he will step down as Eurogroup chair


BRUSSELS (AFP) - Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker announced late Monday that he is stepping down as euro zone finance ministerial chairman as of the end of the month.

The Luxembourg prime minister - Europe's longest-serving national leader - said he informed colleagues that he would carry out his stated intention to step down "at the end of this year, or the beginning of next year." Mr Juncker has held the post as Eurogroup head since 2005, and his current term officially runs until July 17.

He has previously been in a similar situation, but was persuaded to continue due to the absence of a candidate clearly acceptable to both the main powers in the currency union, France and Germany. The two countries, the euro zone's biggest, have not managed to agree so far on who should take on the pivotal job, with Paris resisting a suggestion from Berlin that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble be given the nod.

Mr Juncker has previously indicated that Mr Schaeuble would be a good choice, but asked whom he would endorse, Mr Juncker said: "I don't have to endorse anyone, I asked for my colleagues to provide for my succession." Although Germany has the biggest economy in Europe and pays the most into European Union and euro zone coffers, few Germans hold powerful EU positions.