Finance minister confident Leão will be elected to ESM chair

  • Lusa
  • 24 May 2022

Fernando Medina said on Tuesday he had "reinforced confidence" in the chances of his predecessor, João Leão, winning the 'race' to lead the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Portugal’s finance minister Fernando Medina said on Tuesday he had “reinforced confidence” in the chances of his predecessor, João Leão, winning the ‘race’ to lead the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), after the “pre-indicative vote” in the Eurogroup.

Speaking to the press at the end of an Ecofin Council in Brussels, Medina, referring to the consultations and votes held on Monday at the Eurogroup meeting, the informal forum of euro-area finance ministers, said that Leão “came out of this meeting strengthened in his prestige and also in his possibilities,” confirming that the candidates from Portugal and Luxembourg – former finance minister Pierre Gramegna – are now the two favourites to succeed German Klaus Regling.

Asked about reports from European sources that explained that the Netherlands withdrew from the race after its candidate received the least votes in the first round and that Italy’s candidate, Marco Buti, received the least votes in the second round – with Italy nevertheless deciding to maintain its candidacy – Medina replied that it “confirms” what happened, confirming that Leão will be “one of the two candidates in this final phase” of the selection process.

Recalling that, as he said on Monday as he entered the Eurogroup meeting, no final decision was expected at this meeting in Brussels, as this will be taken on June 16 at the Council of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism in Luxembourg, the minister explained that “it was a debate, a listening session and then a pre-indicative vote regarding the progress” of the process.

“I think it confirmed what we already knew, which was João Leão’s prestige within the Eurogroup,” he said, considering that the former finance minister “came out of this meeting strengthened in his prestige and possibilities of occupying that position” of director of the ESM.

Asked whether the Portuguese candidacy had the support of Germany and France, the two “heavyweights” of the European economy and with more votes in the ESM, Medina declined to “make this public discussion of support” but noted that, “naturally, for João Leão – and Portugal – to reach the position he has reached, he had significant support, as he said at the entrance to the meeting” of the Eurogroup on Monday that this would be the case.

“I think I can say that what this meeting brings confirmation of the strength of the Portuguese candidacy, and now we’ll see. They are two highly qualified candidates, two former finance ministers, naturally with different perspectives and visions, capable of serving the European Mechanism and European politics well. But we have great confidence in the Portuguese candidacy,” he concluded.

The Board of Governors is the highest decision-making body of the ESM. It is composed of government representatives from each of the 19 shareholders of the mechanism, the euro countries, with responsibility for the finance portfolio. Fernando Medina represents Portugal.

Based in Luxembourg, the ESM is an intergovernmental organisation set up by euro-area member states to prevent and overcome financial crises and maintain long-term financial stability and prosperity by providing loans and other financial assistance to countries in severe financial distress.