PARIS, Dec 5 (Reuters) – The hunt is on for a competent,
articulate consensus-builder to succeed veteran Luxembourg Prime
Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as chairman of euro zone finance
ministers and help the currency bloc to emerge from crisis.
Juncker, 57, who has held the job since 2005 and has been a
leading protagonist in Europe’s monetary union ever since the
1991 Maastricht treaty, said on Monday he would step down as
Eurogroup chief at the end of the year or early next year.
His announcement set off a scramble to find a figure
acceptable both to fiscally conservative north European
AAA-rated states and to southern countries struggling to rein in
debts and deficits and regain economic competitiveness.
French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, 55, emerged as a
candidate on Tuesday but diplomats said he may not be acceptable
to the northern hawks because of his advocacy of common euro
zone bonds and a central budget for the 17-nation currency area.
“At this sensitive time, we need someone who can bridge the
differences between Germany and France,” a European diplomat
said. “That is hardly likely to be either the German finance
minister or the French one.”