Meet Euclid Tsakalotos, the Oxford-educated economist set to become Greece's new finance minister

ATHENS, Greece — Euclid Tsakalotos is tipped to be Greece’s new finance minister, replacing outgoing Yanis Varoufakis.

Varoufakis himself has hinted Tsakalotos could take the job, saying: “I hope so,” when asked if Tsakalotos would be the next Finance Minister.

Greek media are now reporting that Tsakalotos is set to be named as the new Finance Minister shortly.


Tsakalotos’ got an enormous pile of issues to deal with, even more than Varoufakis had when he started.

In the aftermath of Sunday’s referendum and the huge triumph for the “No” campaign backed by the government, it will be Tsakalotos’ job to negotiate a deal after the latest one was comprehensively rejected by the Greek people.

All that while banks are shuttered and capital controls are in place — Greeks can currently withdraw just €60 ($US66.33 or £42.62) from bank accounts each day. Without a deal, and further assistance from the European Central Bank soon, the little physical cash left is going to run out.

What’s more, Varoufakis told Greeks that banks would open on Tuesday, something that’s probably impossible.

But what else should people know about Tsakalotos?

For starters, he’s spent much of his life in the UK. Though he’s about as far from the British Conservative party as it’s possible to get in European politics, he does share something with UK Chancellor George Osborne — they both went to St. Paul’s, the same elite London private school.

There was no cross-over, since Tsakalotos is 11 years older than Osborne.

He went on to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at Oxford, the degree beloved by UK members of parliament. Like Varoufakis, he’s a trained economist, with a PhD in the subject also from Oxford.

After an academic career, he came into the Greek parliament in 2012, unlike Varoufakis, who came in less than six months ago, so he’s got a little bit more experience of the political wrangling that might be useful. In fact, until Varoufakis’s sudden elevation, many expected that Tsakalotos would be Tsipras’pick as finance minister.

In January 2015, when the election was actually won, he became alternative foreign minister, a role which seems to largely involve economic affairs.

Yanis Varoufakis Euclid TsakalotosREUTERS/Alkis KonstantinidisGreek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (front) and deputy minister for international economic relations Euclid Tsakalotos leave the Maximos Mansion after a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (not pictured) in Athens April 3, 2015. Greece will pay a loan tranche due on April 9 to the International Monetary Fund on time, its deputy finance minister said on Friday, seeking to quell fears of default after a flurry of contradictory statements on the issue in recent days.

At the end of April he took on more responsibility for Greece’s negotiations with its Eurogroup creditors, a move which was seen as sidelining the finance minister, who was becoming increasingly unpopular with his European colleagues.

Tsakalotos was appointed to head a “political negotiating team” at the time, which should have given him some direct experience with the negotiations.

Mujtaba Rahman of Eurasia Group said at the time that that Tsakalotos’ better understanding of Syriza as a movement would be an asset:

Tsakalotos, unlike Varoufakis, is a respected Syriza party member with deep ties to the party. He will therefore know how to operate within the party framework and his appointment will be critical to bridge the gap between the difficult reforms the government will be forced to implement and the objections raised within Syriza as a deal gets closer.

Though his politics seem, at least from the perspective of the Eurogroup, largely similar to his predecessor, the Eurogroup may find him easier to deal with — it was Varoufakis’ personal style that many found jarring. There have been no similar complaints about Tsakalotos, though Telegraph journalist Ambrose Evans Pritchard calls him “more hardline“. Neither are anti-euro, as some of Syriza’s left are.

He’s written extensively about the Greek political and economic crisis, including this paper in 2010, and this piece in 2011 addressing three myths about the situation.

He denied that Greece is about to introduce a sort of parallel currency to get around its cash crisis on Monday morning — offering a taste of the sort of problems he’s going to face in the weeks ahead.

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