July 8, 2020 / 3:53 PM / a month ago

Italy's Conte backs Spain's Calvino for Eurogroup job

FILE PHOTO: Spain's Deputy Prime Minister and Economic Affairs Minister Nadia Calvino attends an European Union finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday backed Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino’s bid to lead the Eurogroup, a day before euro zone finance ministers meet to select their next head.

The Eurogroup chair sets the agenda at monthly meetings of finance ministers of the 19 countries sharing the euro and works out compromises on key policies. He or she will be instrumental to economic recovery policies after the coronavirus crisis.

“The fact that she is a woman is an added value,” Conte said during a visit to Madrid, adding that Calvino leading the Eurogroup would be “in everyone’s best interest”.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez repeated that he was “reasonably optimistic” Calvino would get the job.

“There will be progressive and conservative governments that will endorse Calvino’s candidacy, not just colleagues from the social democratic family,” he said.

Calvino, 51, also serves as a deputy prime minister in Sanchez’s minority left-wing coalition. A former senior EU official, she has good knowledge of the workings of EU institutions.

Pascal Donohoe of Ireland and Pierre Gramegna of Luxembourg are also candidates.

The Eurogroup president also chairs the board of the euro zone bailout fund which saved Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus from bankruptcy during the sovereign debt crisis. The job is for 2-1/2 years and is combined with being economy or finance minister back home.

The job is part of the broader horse-trading of top posts in the EU.

Reporting by Belen Carreno in Madrid, Giulia Segreti and Angelo Amante in Rome,; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Nick Macfie

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