Former finance minister João Leão - Photo: MANUEL DE ALMEIDA/LUSA

Former finance minister tipped for European posting

João Leão still embroiled in ISCTE ‘revolving door’ row

The race for a successor at the helm of the eurozone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, is formally kicking off next week when the application process begins. A few names of potential candidates have already emerged, reports the Financial Times – citing Portugal’s recently set-aside minister of finance João Leão as one of them.

The FT next makes no mention of the ‘revolving door’ row Mr Leão’s ‘return to civil society’ recently prompted (he was appointed vice-dean of ISCTE – the business school arm of the University of Lisbon – which only recently benefited from €5.2 million in State-funding for a research project that he will be running. This might not have raised eyebrows had any other of the contending university projects received similar funding. They didn’t. Only ISCTE got the support it asked for).

Minority parties have thus interpreted the worst and called for Mr Leão and ISCTE’s dean Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues to answer questions in parliament.

Ms Rodrigues has insisted the funding and Mr Leão’s appointment have no connections whatsoever.

Would the situation be more neatly dealt with if Mr Leão resigned his position at ISCTE in favour of a suitability distanced role in Europe? The next few weeks will tell.

Says the FT, the job has come up because the current man at the helm, Klaus Regling, is stepping down.

Mr Regling has vast experience managing European financial stability (he headed up the European Financial Stability Facility before the Stability Mechanism came into place).

His successor “will face a tricky task of re-energising an institution that has struggled to carve out a role for itself in the most recent economic crises in the euroland”, the FT acknowledges.

Choices fall to the bloc’s finance ministers, and these are tipped to want to decide “as soon as May”.