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Eurogroup's Centeno puts integration on the menu

Tuesday, December 05, 2017 - 02:00

The European Union's selection on Monday of Portugal's Mario Centeno as the next Eurogroup chairman could embolden countries seeking deeper integration of the 19-country's bloc. As David Pollard reports, Centeno comes to the job with a reputation as the man who defeated austerity at home.

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(SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROGROUP PRESIDENT, JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM, SAYING: "I'm happy to announce that the Eurogroup has elected my successor ...." One Eurogroup chairman introduces the next. His eyes firmly set on the two and half years he'll serve from January. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEWLY-ELECTED EUROGROUP PRESIDENT, MARIO CENTENO, SAYING: "We have a very unique time window." Mario Centeno beating other finmins from Slovakia, Luxembourg and Latvia in the race to head the EU's most powerful economic policy-setting body. And with a CV to match: a Harvard-educated economist credited with dragging Portugal out of its debt crisis and euro zone bailout programme. For whom a strong grip on public finances is not at odds with what he calls 'inclusive prosperity'. SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY INTERNATIONAL, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "Certainly within Portugal, the austerity measures have been eased back significantly in the last two years under Mr. Centeno. And I so this marks quite a significant shift for the region as a whole." This week sees the European Commission due to announce sweeping measures for deeper euro zone ties. Centeno the man who may play a part in ushering in a euro zone budget - as favoured by France - even a euro zone finance minister. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PORTUGAL FINANCE MINISTER MARIO CENTENO, SAYING: "We think is very positive, very, very positive the efforts and the detailed roadmap put forward by President Macron, the same thing for the long standing position of Germany." Germany has opposed the budget idea. But - along with France and Italy - did support the election of Centeno. Whom earlier this year, its former finance chief, Wolfgang Schaeuble dubbed the Cristiano Ronaldo - the star footballer - of finance ministers. In fact, Centeno is said to like rugby. And cooking. 2018 the year perhaps when the prized dish of greater euro zone integration begins to take shape.

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Eurogroup's Centeno puts integration on the menu

Tuesday, December 05, 2017 - 02:00