Emmanuel Macron blow: Irish eurozone victory ‘a slap in face’ for French President

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Mr Donohoe’s election also marked the end to the days when former Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar offered “tough anti-Brexit lectures, with the new man in Brussels likely to push hard for a better relationship with the UK. The election was mired in controversy after Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino, Mr Macron’s preferred candidate, accused one unnamed EU finance minister of not keeping his pledge to support her.

Ray Bassett, former Irish ambassador to Canada, Jamaica and the Bahamas, told Express.co.uk: “I think it is a real feather in the cap for the pro-EU people in Ireland.

“Pascal is very personable and no doubt but that contributed to his election victory. Even the Opposition regard him as capable.”

One person who was likely to be less happy was the French President, Mr Bassett said.

His win is a slap in the face for Macron

Ray Bassett

Mr Bassett, whose book, Ireland and the EU Post Brexit, is published later this month, explained: “His win is a slap in the face for Macron who championed the Spanish Finance Minister and is probably a testament to the French President’s declining influence.

“On Brexit, I don’t think it will have much of a direct effect as the Eurozone group will be concentrating on internal matters and the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.

“However having an Irish President of the Finance Ministers will mean that behind the scenes, Paschal will be pushing for an accommodation with the UK.

“Ireland desperately needs a deal so Paschal will be a moderating influence on the more hardline elements in Brussels.”

With reference to Fine Gael leader Mr Varadkar, who last month stepped aside for new Taoiseach Micheal Martin, leader of rivals Fianna Fail, Mr Bassett said: “The days of Leo giving tough anti-Brexit lectures are long gone as the cold prospect of a No Deal outcome becomes more likely, as I outline in my forthcoming book, Ireland and the EU, Post Brexit.

However, he added: “While undoubtedly this appointment represents an honour for the country, there are some who wonder whether this is the best time to have a part-time Irish Minister for Finance while he works in Brussels.”

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Speaking today on radio station SER, Ms Calvino said: “We had ten votes secured.

“Someone didn’t do what he said he was going to do.

“The vote is secret and, in this case, remote.”

She refused to say who she thinks the person was – and with 19 members of the Eurogroup, and given she is the only woman, there are 17 possibilities, assuming Mr Donohoe himself had not promised her his vote.

In the event Mr Donohoe defeated Ms Calvino by one vote, even though Ms Calvino had secured the support of France, Germany, Italy and Portugal.

The countries supporting her represented more than 80 percent of the euro zone population and economies, she said.

Unlike Ms Calvino, Mr Donohoe, has in the past taken a strong stance against government spending increases and deficits.

He also opposes a potential EU tax on digital firms, while Ms Calvino and the Spanish government are staunch advocates of the tax.

In an apparent reference to Ireland, Ms Calvino said: “The vision of Europe that country has, doesn’t match the one we have.”

Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was President of the Eurogroup from 2005 to 2013.

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