Clashes over role of `Mr or Ms Euro'

EUROPEAN finance ministers will join battle this weekend in a new row over who should represent the euro on the international stage including the G7 and the International Monetary Fund.

The dispute, which pits the EU's larger countries against their smaller counterparts, underlines the enhanced global aspirations of the architects of the euro, and could lead to a clash with America.

The question of who becomes "Mr or Ms Euro" also raises questions about the role of the European Commission in shaping or presenting policy after the launch of the euro next January.

Officials in Brussels say there is no threat to Britain's G7 status, but argue that successful co-ordination of a Euro-11 policy would diminish the influence of the UK, which will be outside the first wave of monetary union.

At the informal meeting of finance ministers starting in Vienna today, the French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn, will propose that the euro should be represented at G7 by the participating countries already represented there in rotation.

That would mean France, Germany and Italy taking turns to present the view of the Euro-11 bloc, after the European Commission had prepared a joint position taking on board the views of the other eight.

However the small and medium size nations - including Spain and Austria, which holds the EU presidency - are resisting the plan, arguing that their influence would be limited.

They would like to see the job of "Mr or Ms Euro" going to the rotating presidency of the Euro-11, (currently Austria). One alternative would be that the role is taken by the Commission, represented by its president, Jacques Santer, or the economic and monetary affairs commissioner, Yves Thibault de Silguy.

The issue has raised tensions in Brussels. Austria was one of the countries angered by being excluded from moves by Europe's G7 countries in reaction to the Russian crisis earlier this year.

In any event the European Central Bank governor, Wim Duisenberg, is likely to win a seat at G7. Any suggestion of a greater role for the Commission is likely to cause consternation in the US, which feels that Europe - with four participants including Britain - is already over-represented.

The model adopted for the G7 is expected to be applied to the IMF representation, although the Commission is unlikely to be given a presentational role there because of the way the organisation is constituted.

Today's informal Ecofin meeting will also broach sensitive issues including the setting up of ERM2, the exchange rate system which comes into being next January and which Denmark and Greece have pledged to join.

The Austrian presidency also hopes to make progress on tax harmonisation proposals. Negotiations will take place over the issue of a withholding tax on savings.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas