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German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble eyes EU role

Wolfgang Schaeuble and UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne
Mr Schaeuble (left) is adopting a wait-and-see approach

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has indicated interest in becoming chairman of the eurozone finance ministers' regular meetings.

It is a key position that involves coordinating policy among the 17 countries that use the euro.

Known as the Eurogroup, it holds its next meeting on Monday.

In an interview with a German newspapers Mister Schaeuble said he could not exclude the possibility of being its next chairman.

The post will probably become vacant in June as the current chairman, Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is unlikely to seek another term.

The Eurogroup also includes the head of the European Central Bank and the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs.

In the interview in the German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, Mr Schaeuble said: "As German finance minister I already have to be strongly involved.

"So that is why I do not say that I will under no circumstance take on the chairmanship.

"And I also haven't heard my colleagues saying: 'Dear god, please not Schaeuble.' So that is also not bad.

"But for now let's wait and see."

The Eurogroup played a key role in coordinating Europe's response to the financial meltdowns in Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

On Monday Greece is again likely to be under discussion as politicians there are struggling to form a government.

It will also be an opportunity for finance ministers to discuss Spain's efforts to restore confidence in its finances.

Earlier on Sunday Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy defended his government's austerity measures as "necessary", but tens of thousands of Spaniards joined protests on Saturday against the austerity drive.

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