Mário José Gomes de Freitas Centeno (born 9 December 1966) is a Portuguese economist, university professor, and politician. Since 2015, he has been Minister of Finance in the government of Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal. Since 2018, he has been president of the Eurogroup and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism. Previously, he was a board member economist of the Bank of Portugal.
|President of the Eurogroup|
|Assumed office |
13 January 2018
|Preceded by||Jeroen Dijsselbloem|
|Minister of Finance|
|Assumed office |
26 November 2015
|Prime Minister||António Costa|
|Preceded by||Maria Luís Albuquerque|
|Member of the Assembly of the Republic|
23 October 2015 – 27 November 2015
Mário José Gomes de Freitas Centeno
9 December 1966
|Political party||Socialist Party|
|Education||University of Lisbon|
Centeno studied economics at University of Lisbon, faculty of Economics and Business Management (ISEG-ULISBOA), graduating in 1990. He earned a master's degree in applied mathematics from ISEG-ULISBOA in 1993, a master's degree in economics from Harvard University that he completed in 1998, and he was awarded a PhD in economics by Harvard University in 2000. Lawrence Katz was his adviser.
An expert on labour market issues, Centeno joined the Banco de Portugal (Central Bank of Portugal) in 2000, where he worked as an economist until 2004. He was member of the Executive Committee of European Association of Labor Economists (EALE) from 2003 to 2005. From 2004 to 2013 he was assistant director of the Central Bank Economics’ Department. He was member of the Economic Policy Committee of the European Commission between 2004 and 2013. He also directed the Macroeconomics Statistics Development's work group in the Superior Statistics Council (CSE) between 2007 and 2013.
From 2014, Centeno was Professor at ISEG, University of Lisbon, and worked as a consultant to the Central Bank of Portugal. In addition, he served as the main economic policy advisor to Socialist leader António Costa, coordinating the Socialist economic programme before the 2015 legislative elections.
Completely unknown to the public at the time he entered government, Centeno had a reputation for economic liberalism in academic circles because of his positions in favour of greater labour market flexibility. He is the author or co-author of several scientific publications, books and book chapters related to his areas of interest, such as labour economics, econometrics, microeconomics and contract theory.
Since taking office as Finance Minister, Centeno has enacted policies which reversed some austerity policies from the debt crisis, such as raising public pensions and wages to increase households’ disposable income, while insisting that European budget rules must be respected. Early in his tenure, he urged the EU to acknowledge the scale of Portugal's economic turnround as the country headed towards its lowest fiscal deficit in more than 40 years and to remove Portugal from the group of countries subject to penalties for breaking the European Fiscal Compact. By the end of 2017, national opinion polls placed Centeno as the best-known and best-liked minister.
In November 2017, Centeno submitted his formal application for succeeding Jeroen Dijsselbloem as the next chairman of the Eurogroup. On 4 December 2017, he was elected President of the Eurogroup, incumbent from 13 January 2018. Reportedly favored by an informal agreement between French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he defeated Pierre Gramegna of Luxembourg, Peter Kažimír of Slovakia and Dana Reizniece-Ozola of Latvia. His election carried particular symbolic weight because he is from one of the countries hardest hit by the debt crisis. He will serve a two-and-a-half year term, which is renewable. On 21 December 2017, he was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism, effective from 13 January 2018.
Following the resignation of Christine Lagarde as managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2019, Centeno was one of the candidates considered by European governments as potential successor; he withdrew his candidacy shortly after and the post went to Kristalina Georgieva instead.
In early 2018, Centeno was being investigated for allegedly accepting S.L. Benfica tickets in exchange for a favourable tax treatment for a real-estate company owned by the son of Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira. On 26 January 2018, Centeno's office was searched by the Portuguese police. On February 1, prosecutors dropped the investigation, concluding there was "no crime of favoritism or any other (crime)" and that it has archived the case.
- European Union organizations
- European Investment Bank (EIB), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2015)
- European Stability Mechanism (ESM), Member of the Board of Governors (since 2015)
- International organizations
- African Development Bank (AfDB), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2015)
- Asian Development Bank (ADB), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2015)
- European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2015)
- Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2015)
- Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), World Bank Group, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2015)
- World Bank, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Governors (since 2015)
- Non-profit organizations
- Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), Fellow (since 2009)
- Portuguese Economic Journal, Member of the Editorial Board (since 2001)
- 2001 – Young Economist Award of the European Economic Association (EEA)
- 2006 – Latin Union Award for Scientific Merit
Centeno married one of his colleagues from ISEG University and has three children.
As a student, Centeno played rugby for the economics faculty. He is a keen soccer enthusiast and supports Lisbon club Benfica. He wore a Portugal soccer scarf to the first Eurogroup meeting after his country won the European championship in 2016.
- Andrei Khalip (25 November 2015), Bank of Portugal economist Centeno named finance minister Reuters.
- Board of Governors: Mário Centeno European Stability Mechanism.
- Andrei Khalip (November 25, 2015), Bank of Portugal economist Centeno named finance minister Reuters.
- Mario Centeno, the 'Ronaldo' of the eurozone Agence France-Presse, December 4, 2017.
- Andrei Khalip and Sergio Goncalves (November 30, 2017), Portugal's Centeno sees good chance of becoming Eurogroup head Reuters.
- Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves (October 15, 2019), Portugal's new cabinet list approved; Centeno keeps finance job Reuters.
- Paul Wise (March 13, 2017), Portugal calls on EU to note its return to fiscal health Financial Times.
- Paul Ames (December 4, 2017), How Eurogroup’s ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ got to captain the team Politico Europe.
- Jan Strupczewski (November 30, 2017), Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia bid for Eurogroup chair Reuters.
- Pierre Briançon (December 4, 2017), Let the great EU leadership contest begin Politico Europe.
- Pan Pylas and Raf Casert (December 4, 2017), Portugal's finance chief wins race for eurogroup president Chicago Tribune.
- Jack Ewing (December 4, 2017), Eurogroup, Looking Past Period of Crisis, Picks New Leader From Portugal New York Times.
- Mehreen Khan and Jim Brunsden (December 4, 2017), Portugal’s Centeno wins race to become eurogroup president Financial Times.
- George Parker and Chris Giles (August 2, 2019), Europe down to two candidates to replace Lagarde at IMF Financial Times.
- Paul Ames, "Police search offices of Eurogroup President Mário Centeno", Politico Europe, 27 January 2018. Updated 28 January 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
- Niels Posthumus, "Politie doet inval bij Portugese ministerie van Financiën" (in Dutch), NRC Handelsblad, 28 January 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
- Axel Bugge (February 1, 2018), Portugal's finance minister cleared in soccer ticket probe Reuters.
- Board of Governors European Investment Bank (EIB).
- AfDB Annual Report 2017 African Development Bank (AfDB).
- Board of Governors European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
- Board of Governors Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC).
- Board of Governors Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), World Bank Group.
- Board of Governors World Bank.
- Mário Centeno Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
- Mehreen Khan (December 5, 2017), The Eurogroup’s revolution is on hold Financial Times.
- Axel Bugge (December 4, 2017), Centeno brings Portuguese charm to Eurogroup top job Reuters.