Austria’s Fekter Says Eurogroup Chief Must Be Head of Government

Austria’s Finance Minister Maria Fekter said the next leader of the group of euro-area finance ministers has to be a head of his or her government in order to have the necessary authority.

“The suitable successor for Juncker ought to be head of government, so he can be the first among equals and not a finance minister, who then gets vetoed by his head of government,” Fekter told reporters in Vienna late yesterday.

The person also should have financial expertise, she said, adding that “he should be from a country that isn’t currently in a program, but which is stable and in good condition so his chairmanship has an enormous credibility.”

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said earlier this month that he doesn’t want to continue to lead the group of euro-area finance ministers after his term ends this summer.

When asked whether she’d consider the position herself, Fekter pointed out that in addition to not leading her government, “there were AAA countries that haven’t been downgraded.”

Austria, together with France, lost its AAA rating at Standard & Poor’s in January. The two countries’ outlooks on their top ratings were also put on “negative” at Moody’s Investor Service in February. Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands still hold AAA ratings.

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