LUXEMBOURG — You cant buy experience.
Thats one of the main arguments that Luxembourgs Pierre Gramegna will present to his 18 fellow finance ministers Thursday as he bids to become the next Eurogroup president.
Gramegna has been his countrys finance minister since December 2013, a membership in the Eurogroup matched only by Maltas Edward Scicluna. Those years have been witness to sovereign debt crises including the Greek bailout drama that pushed the currency union to the brink.
“My advantage is obviously to have been in this boat for six and a half years,” Gramegna said in an interview at his ministry in the historic center of the Grand Duchys capital. “I know all the files that are on the table today.”
He will hope that that experience — and his pitch to secure a vital decision-making role for the Eurogroup in the EUs €750 billion recovery blueprint — will be enough to win him the chairmanship.
The winner will be responsible for setting the eurozones financial policy agenda for the next 30 months at a time of great uncertainty. The coronavirus has ravaged the economy after governments locked down business for months to stem the outbreak.
In April, the Eurogroup agreed on a €540 billion economic package of loans to prevent mass unemployment and bankruptcy, as well as helping governments shoulder the cost of the crisis. This fall, the next Eurogroup chief will have to figure out how to implement the EU recovery program.
Gramegna has a plan.
Like Donohoe, the Luxembourger sees the Eurogroups informal nature as the perfect platform for all EU finance ministers to design a legislative framework on how to disburse recovery cash across the bloc.
Under the European Commissions €750 billion proposal, governments would outline how they plan to use the money.
The Commission would sign off on those plans if they do enough to make the economies greener and more digital — an overarching ambition of its president, Ursula von der Leyen.
Rather than leaving the spending plans to individual countries, Gramegna said the Eurogroup should play a central role with the Commission in developing cross-border projects that promote environmental and digital projects.
“If we do it country by country, theres a big risk” that we “lose the cross-border aspect of investment of digitalization, of climate change,” he said, speaking from behind a ministerial desk large enough to allow for social distancing.
Pressed for an example, Gramegna suggested recovery cash could be used to make cargo trucks more environmentally friendly. “It makes no sense that we have 27 initiatives for cleaner trucks,” he said. “The finance ministers are the ones to organize that, together with the Commission, obviously.”
Government leaders, who meet next week to discuss the recovery blueprint, would have to sign off on the idea.
If successful, the move would add more impetus to the Eurogroup, which has struggled in recent years to deliver on some other programs, such as deepening safeguards against future banking crises.
The stalemate on completion of a banking union is largely connected with plans to share guarantees for deposits, which countries in Northern Europe fear would put their banks on the hook for troubled lenders in the South.
Breaking the deadlock over the European Deposit Insurance Scheme will take time, Gramegna said. So, he pledged to begin chipping away at it from Day One of his potential presidency — in person.
“I hope it would be possible to travel again,” he said, referring to restrictions many countries hRead More – Source