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Spain economy minister seeks presidency of Eurogroup

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Spain economy minister seeks presidency of Eurogroup

guindos - Luis de Guindos - Photo EU Council

(MADRID) - Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos will bid to take over the chair of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers from Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem who is seeking a second term in the post, a ministry official said Friday.

"Spain has support among its (European) partners," the economy ministry official said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in August 2014 that Berlin would back the Spaniard for the post once the term of the current Eurogroup president was up in July 2015.

"Luis de Guindos has been an excellent economy minister in difficult times," she said during a visit to Spain in August.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin praised de Guindos during a visit to Spain last month but stopped short of formally backing him for the post, one of the top jobs in the European Union.

The Eurogroup is the name given to meetings of all finance ministers from the 19 countries that use the euro.

Dijsselbloem was first elected in 2013 to replace Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker, who held the job for eight years.

As chair of the Eurogroup the Dutch minister has led difficult talks with Greece over the country's bailout package.

The economy ministry official said obtaining the presidency would amount to a recognition "of the effort carried out by Spanish society and the turnaround sparked by reforms."

De Guindos can claim to have overseen an improvement in Spain's economy, which emerged in mid-2013 from a double-dip recession sparked by a 2008 property crash, and is now enjoying a gradual pickup in activity although the unemployment rate still stands at 23.8 percent.

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