Minister for Finance and Financial Services Edward Scicluna was chosen by the Eurogroup to deliver the farewell speech on the group’s behalf at Mario Centeno’s last Eurogroup meeting as President of the Eurogroup. The Eurogroup meeting was held on Thursday, the 9th of July 2020. Prof. Centeno informed Finance Ministers that he would be stepping down as Portugal’s Finance Minister, and hence not seeking the second term as President of the Eurogroup.
During his speech, Minister Scicluna recalled some of Prof Centeno’s achievements. He highlighted some of the successes registered in Portugal during his term as Minister for Finance, such as the GDP drop by 14 percentage points by the end of 2019 and the steady reductions in the fiscal deficit, which led Portugal to record a budget surplus for the first time since 1973.
Minister Scicluna said, “The Eurogroup was very fortunate to have had Finance Minister Centeno at the helm for the past two and a half years, and as a member for nearly five years. Thanks to his perseverance, patience, political agility and diplomatic skills, the Eurogroup managed to bridge its differences on so many different and complex issues. Under his competent leadership, the Eurogroup demonstrated once again its ability to rise to the occasion in difficult times.”
Minister Scicluna also recalled the most critical challenges faced by the European Union at the time of his Presidency. He mentioned the gradual convergence on the features of the ESM reform and the so-called Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness (BICC), the road map for a completed banking union and the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Minister Scicluna, on behalf of all the Finance Ministers, thanked Mario Centeno for his service and wished him all the success in his future endeavors.
The election for the new President was held at the end of the meeting. The EU Finance Ministers elected Paschal Donohoe as the new Eurogroup President, for a term of two and a half years.