Eurogroup postpones ECB seat deal in row over leak

Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:52am EDT
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By Francesca Landini and Annika Breidthardt

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - A meeting to decide who will be the next chairman of the powerful Eurogroup and who will take up an executive board seat on the European Central Bank broke up in angry disarray on Friday, prompted by a loose-lipped finance minister.

Jean-Claude Juncker, current chairman of the Eurogroup, which steers 17-nation euro zone, ended the meeting early and walked out before finance ministers, central bankers and European Commission officials even discussed the jobs.

He was not present at a later, larger meeting of European Union finance ministers when it started

It means a delay in knowing whether Luxembourger Yves Mersch will take a seat on the ECB Bank board and who will succeed countryman Juncker if he does.

Juncker was upset with Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter for announcing the bloc had reached a separate agreement on the capability of its debt crisis firewall.

"The decision was not possible. The decision is delayed till mid-April," a visibly upset Juncker said as he left the building without holding a scheduled news conference.

"There was no point in holding a press conference because the Austrian finance minister announced the deal already as the meeting was going on," he told journalists as he waited to board a lift to his hotel room.

The Danish presidency then cancelled the news conference, a rare move for the Eurogroup.   Continued...