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France's Moscovici set for EU economy role, under supervision

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Former French finance minister Pierre Moscovici has a "good chance" of being named to the European Commission's top economic and monetary job, a French diplomatic source said on Monday, as attention turned to the line-up of the next EU executive.

EU leaders on Saturday appointed Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as the next president of the European Council, chairing and preparing policymaking EU summits, and Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini as foreign policy chief.

European Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker, who was chosen in July, is expected to unveil the new EU executive team early next week, a Commission source said.

Juncker is still battling member states to get more women nominees to avert a possible clash with the European Parliament.

One of his most sensitive choices is over the position of economic and monetary affairs commissioner, responsible for overseeing national budgets.

Paris has been pushing Moscovici, a Keynesian Socialist dropped from President Francois Hollande's government in a reshuffle in April, for the key role as part of its campaign along with Italy for a greater emphasis on promoting growth and more flexibility in reducing deficits.

Moscovici has said he believes it is crucial for Europe to refocus on growth and jobs via higher investments. However, Germany has voiced reservations about France's interest in the powerful role.

The French diplomatic talked up Moscovici's chances after Hollande talked to Juncker on the sidelines of Saturday's EU summit in Brussels.

The Commission source said a compromise may be to give Moscovici the portfolio but place him under the supervision of a Commission vice-president in overall charge of economic policy such as former Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, a stickler for fiscal discipline.

Moscovici was President Francois Hollande's campaign manager in the 2012 presidential election before becoming finance minister.

SEARCH FOR WOMEN

Juncker so far has been given an overwhelmingly male line-up by member states with just five women nominees. European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned in July that if fewer than the current nine out of 28 commissioners were female, lawmakers could reject the whole team.

The president-elect is pressing governments that have not yet put forward a candidate to offer women nominees.

Slovenia appears to have heeded his call. Juncker is to meet former Slovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek, who resigned earlier this year, later this week, the Slovenian news agency quoted Juncker's spokeswoman as saying.

Poland is also set to put forward a woman, with Polish media and a senior political source saying Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Elzbieta Bienkowska, in charge of disbursing EU regional funds, is being prepared for Brussels.

However, a Dutch newspaper said the Netherlands had put forward its male foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, for the Commission after failing to find support for Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who infuriated Juncker earlier this year by saying he had drunk heavily during euro zone meetings.

Romania may also send a woman commissioner after initially proposing to renew agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos' term. Prime Minister Victor Ponta said at the weekend he had offered Juncker two candidates including Ciolos and a woman.

A senior Romanian lawmaker said the alternative candidate was three-term European Parliament member Corina Cretu.

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus in Paris, Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam, Matthias Williams in Bucharest, Marja Novak in Ljubljana and Robin Emmott and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; Writing by Paul Taylor; editing by Robin Emmott and Martin Santa)

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