Paschal Donohoe is celebrating his victory after beating his rival candidates from Spain and Luxembourg to preside over the Eurogroup, a grouping of finance ministers from the eurozone.
The three horse race became a two-horse race after Pierre Gramegna, the Luxembourg candidate, withdrew after the first round of votes. In the second and final round of online votes cast in a secret ballot, Donohoe beat Spain’s Calviño.
Taking to twitter, Donohoe said his “immediate priority” is to facilitate agreement on the EU COVID-19 recovery, bolstering the Eurozone economy and “promoting sustainable and inclusive growth for member States and their citizens”. In the hours after his success he confirmed he would argue for Ireland’s low corporation tax rate. This drew the ire of Yanis Varoufakis, the former left-wing Greek Minister of Finance, who warned that a lack of harmonisation would mean “business as usual at a time we cannot afford business as usual”. Varoufakis has previously railed against the Eurogroup, calling out its “outrageous opacity” in 2017, a nod to the informal nature of the body and its large discretionary powers. Donohoe vowed to review the eurozone budgetary rules once the immediacy of the COVID crisis had passed. Meanwhile David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, welcomed the call for promoting sustainable and inclusive growth.
The elevation of Donohoe is a watershed moment for the Fine Gael party as he becomes the first conservative to take over the helm of the Eurogroup since 2013. Donohoe will replace Portugal’s social democrat Mário Centeno. Fine Gael belongs to the conservative EPP (European People’s Party) Group in the European Parliament. The group’s spokesperson on economic affairs, Markus Ferber MEP, welcomed the news and praised Donohoe as being “skilled in finding and delivering compromises in challenging times”.
The victory for 45-year old Donohoe yesterday follows on from his reappointment as Minister for Finance by Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Donohoe was first came to prominence in 2013 when Enda Kenny appointed him as Minister of State for European Affairs. He held various high profile government roles before being appointed as Minister of Finance by Leo Varadkar in June 2017.
Donohoe originates from Blanchardstown, a suburb of Dublin. After graduating from Trinity College with a Batchelors in Economics and Politics he worked at Procter & Gamble before being elected to Dublin City Council in 2002. He was elected to the Seanad Éireann in 2007 and the Dáil Éireann in 2011.
Paschal Donohoe will serve as the Eurogroup President for two-and-a-half years from Sunday.
Compliments of Vulcan Consulting – a member of the EACCNY.