AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France (MNI) – France’s Finance Minister Pierre
Moscovici Sunday downplayed a report that he might share the position of
Eurogroup president with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

“I don’t know where these rumors come from,” Moscovici told
reporters before a speech at a conference here. “The position of France
is that Jean-Claude Juncker continue in that post for a certain period
of time.”

The German magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday, without citing
sources, that an agreement had been reached for Moscovici and Schaeuble
to share the Eurogroup presidency. According to the report, Schaeuble
would take the first half of the five-year term then be succeeded by
Moscovici in the second half.

MNI reported late last month that a deal had been struck under
which Juncker would accept another term as Eurogroup president, then
voluntarily step down before the end of it – most likely after six
months. As part of the agreement, Juncker’s fellow countryman Yves
Mersch, president of the Luxembourg Central Bank, would take an open
seat on the European Central Bank’s Executive Board. Klaus Regling, CEO
of the European Financial Stability Facility, would take the helm at the
EFSF’s successor, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Moscovici said that one of the top agenda items at Monday’s
Eurogroup meeting in Brussels will be to “agree on a package of names to
lead European institutions such as the ESM, and also [name] a member of
the executive board of the ECB.”

Moscovici said the Eurogroup will also focus on Spain’s proposed
bank aid deal, the details of a banking union, and how Europe’s rescue
funds should intervene in sovereign bond markets to reduce interest rate
spreads that are not in line with economic fundamentals.

“We must give tangible signs that what was said at the European
Council will be translated into action,” Moscovici said. He said, in
particular, that Europe “must move quickly on the recapitalization of
Spanish banks” and to have a single European bank supervisor in place by
the end of 2012.

Moscovici said that European leaders have been able to make greater
progress on the debt crisis by more actively involving Spain and Italy
in negotiations, and he reiterated that this was not an effort to form a
front against Germany.

“We must not have a construction of Europe that is limited to the
Franco-German relationship,” Moscovici said. “This is what is different
from the period of [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy,” he added.
“We believe that when we work with four, with Spain and Italy, it is
useful. It is not against Germany.”

–Paris newsroom, +33142715540;

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