New Eurogroup chief vows to press ahead with reforms
PARIS, Jan 12: The eurozone must press ahead with much-needed political and economic reforms to make it more robust and resilient in future, the Eurogroup's new chief, Portugal's Mario Centeno, said on Friday.
Speaking at a ceremony in Paris to mark his assumption of the chair of the informal group of eurozone finance ministers, Centeno said the 19-member bloc had no time to lose in beefing up and unifying its institutional framework.
Centeno was appointed last month to take over as Eurogroup chief from Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem. His term will be for two and a half years.
"The window that we have now both politically and economically should be used to complete the landscape of institutions that we have in the euro area," the Portuguese finance minister said, pointing to the banking and capital markets unions, as well "the discussions we have had around fiscal policy."
It was "very important to meet our citizens' expectations and to build a more robust and resilient euro area," Centeno said.
"The challenges we have need to be tackled now. We exited the crisis but we have to face it that the job is not yet complete. It never is."
For his part, Dijsselbloem said his successor enjoyed "strong support in the eurogroup and will push reforms, push modernization, push the strengthening of the euro zone even further."
The Dutchman, who served as the Eurogroup's head for two terms, symbolically handed Centeno the bell used to open the body's regular meetings.
During his Paris visit, Centeno met French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and was scheduled to meet Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire later in the afternoon.
A political novice when he entered Portugal's socialist government in November 2015, the 51-year-old economics professor, who does not belong to a political party, has come to personify the country's economic success.
Alternately described as a centrist and a liberal, Centeno has become one of the heavyweights in the administration of Prime Minister Antonio Costa. -AFP