July 9, 2020 / 12:44 PM / a month ago

France backs Spanish candidate to lead Eurogroup of finance ministers

FILE PHOTO: Nadia Calvino, Minister for Economy and Business of Spain speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker in New York U.S., October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

PARIS (Reuters) - France will back Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino for the presidency of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday, a stance echoed by France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“We support Nadia Calvino because she showed her competency during the Eurogroup meetings of recent months, and we support her because we share with Spain the same desire for stronger euro zone integration,” Le Maire told journalists.

Following a bilateral meeting with Spanish counterpart Arancha Gonzalez Laya on Thursday, Le Drian said the Eurogroup needed someone capable not only of gathering votes but also imposing the necessary dynamic.

“The Eurogroup is an essential tool in the period we’re in, and particularly as we relaunch,” Le Drian said. “That’s the reason France determined whom to support along those parameters.”

Spain’s Laya thanked France for supporting Calvino’s candidacy.

“We appreciate enormously the support of French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire for Calvino’s candidacy to the Eurogroup,” Laya said. “If, as everything seems to indicate, she is chosen this afternoon, Nadia Calvino’s mission will be to defend the European interest... with rigour and responsibility.”

Euro zone finance ministers are due to vote late on Thursday on the group’s presidency, for which Pascal Donohoe of Ireland and Pierre Gramegna of Luxembourg are also candidates. Should Calvino win, she would be the Eurogroup’s first female leader.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Elisabeth Pineau in Paris and Clara-Laeila Laudette in Madrid; editing by Richard Lough, William Maclean

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