Spain sole abstention in vote for new Eurogroup chief

Minister De Guindos explains move as a protest at “underrepresentation on EU institutions”

Faced with its increasingly irrelevant role in the economic decision-making process within the European Union, Spain abstained in protest on Monday night in a vote to confirm Jeroen Dijsselbloem as the new head of the Eurogroup, the organism that brings together the 17 economy ministers in the euro zone.

This is the second time in two months that Spain has made such a move, having earlier tried to block the appointment of Yves Mersch, from Luxembourg, as a new member of the European Central Bank’s governing council.

By failing to support Dijsselbloem’s appointment, Spain was left isolated and created an unprecedented situation — the Eurogroup president has always been elected unanimously.

While his 16 colleagues voted yes, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos opted to abstain in protest, reflecting the government’s discontent over the distribution of responsibilities.

In a press conference late Monday night, Dijsselbloem, who is from the Netherlands, said that De Guindos had not explained his abstention. But on Tuesday, the Spanish minister spoke to the press to explain his posture. “Spain [...] did not vote, and didn’t support the appointment of the Eurogroup president,” because, he said, “Spain is underrepresented in the EC’s institutions.” He added that once Dijsselbloem has been confirmed in the role, “Spain will cooperate fully, because we are all in the same boat.”

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