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Sasko Lazarov

Government to nominate Paschal Donohoe for second term as President of the Eurogroup

The proposal would see Michael McGrath represent Ireland at the Eurogroup as Finance Minister.

THE GOVERNMENT WILL nominate the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe for a second term as President of the Eurogroup.

However, if he is re-elected, he will take up the presidency as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, a government spokesperson said. 

The Finance Minister at that time, expected to be current Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath after December’s Cabinet reshuffle, will represent Ireland and will attend Eurogroup and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN). 

The process for election will be announced at the Eurogroup meeting on 7 November and will be managed by the Council Secretariat.

The Eurogroup takes decisions on policy issues related to the management of the Euro-area economy. It is made up of finance ministers from each member state and usually meets once a month. Donohoe was elected as its president in 2020.

His nomination for re-election comes after months of speculation and a rift between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over the finance ministry.

Concerns that Ireland could lose its position as having the president of the Eurogroup if Donohoe ceased to be Minister for Finance were initially raised by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Speaking on the matter in September, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme that the “fundamental principle of the government” laid out at the formation of the Government two years ago was “parity of esteem between parties”.

He said that if one party held the role of Taoiseach, it was expected the other party would hold the finance ministry.

“That was clear and that was understood at the time,” Martin said.

McGrath also indicated at the Fianna Fáil think-in that he would represent Ireland at the Eurogroup if he were to take over as finance minister in December.

“It is always the case that the finance minister of the country attends the Eurogroup and we would expect that to continue,” he told reporters.

However, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar later said that Donohoe might not have to remain as finance minister in order to retain his position as president.

“I think an assumption is being made that Minister Donohoe has to be the Minister of Finance to continue to chair the Eurogroup. That is not necessarily the case, so that assumption is being made erroneously,” he said. 

McGrath later told RTÉ’s This Week that not having the Minister for Finance represent Ireland at the Eurogroup would “represent a significant diminution in the role of the Minister for Finance.”

“It would also raise questions about who answers in Dáil Éireann in respect of matters to do with European economic policy, capital, markets, banking, union, and so on. And it does sound like tantamount to a division of the Department of Finance, which is not something that we would agree with,” he said.

“But again, the Tánaiste should be discussing these issues directly with the Taoiseach.”

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