Chess Grandmaster Says She Has Experience to Take Top Euro Job

(Bloomberg) -- Latvia’s Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said she has the proper background to take over one of the euro-area’s top economic bodies as she and her counterparts prepare to vote on the next leader of the so-called Eurogroup on Monday.

“I think there are four excellent candidates,” Reizniece-Ozola said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Brussels. “All of us have the experience necessary to hold this post.”

Her comments come as the finance ministers from Slovakia, Portugal, Luxembourg and Latvia have thrown their hats into the ring to take over the post of Eurogroup president from Jeroen Dijsselbloem once his term runs out in January. Reizniece-Ozola has been serving in the body for the shortest amount of time among the candidates.

Chess Grandmaster Says She Has Experience to Take Top Euro Job

The 36-year-old finance chief is the only woman in the race for the coveted post. While she is considered an outsider, her candidacy could boost her standing among the group at a time when euro-area finance ministers are debating how to strengthen the union’s economy and shore up the single currency.

“The banking union, the same as capital markets union, have to be finalized still before the further integration of the European monetary union,” she said. “So the deposit insurance system should be introduced in the banking union while at the same time taking all the steps in risk reduction before risk is shared among the member states and the European banks."

Reizniece-Ozola also voiced her likely opposition to upcoming plans by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to bring the euro area’s bailout fund within its own legal purview as part of its proposals to deepen integration in the currency bloc.

“I do like the idea of strengthening the European Stability Mechanism and turning in into the European Monetary fund while keeping its ownership held by the member states and not make it an institutionalized instrument,” she said. “Giving it more power in decision-making would be of high importance to the European Monetary Fund and the stability of the euro zone.”

A chess grandmaster, who defeated world champion Hou Yifan at the Baku 2016 chess Olympiad, this year Reizniece-Ozola oversaw an overhaul of the corporate and income tax system and the 2018 budget, which boosted spending on defense and health.

In running to head one of the euro-areas most powerful bodies, Reizniece-Ozola may face some uncomfortable questions. In 2012, while her party was in opposition, she voted against the law on euro adoption. 

“The green farmers did not vote against the euro as such,” she said. It was “the way the government was implementing the timing.”

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