Spain’s government on Wednesday said that the former banker and economist Roman Escolano will take over as the country’s new economy minister, playing a leading role in steering Spain’s recovery and managing its economic relationship with the European Union. Mr Escolano is vice-president of the European Investment Bank and previously worked as the head of institutional relations of one of the country’s largest banks, BBVA. He will now be Spain’s economic representative in Brussels, sitting on the Ecofin council. The 53-year-old takes over from Luis de Guindos, who took up the position in the midst of Spain’s financial crisis in 2011 and who will this month take up the role of the European Central Bank’s new vice-president. There will be no other changes in the Spanish government. Mr Escolano faces a series of challenges as finance minister, including the privatisation of the nationalised lender Bankia, bringing down the deficit and reducing the unemployment rate. Unemployment hit 27 per cent during the downturn and is still at 16 per cent — one of the highest in the eurozone. He will also have to deal with the fallout from the ongoing turmoil in Catalonia, where there is a push to become independent, as well as the negotiations over the UK’s exit from the European Union — which threatens to harm Spanish businesses and the country’s tourism industry. Mr Escolano has been with the EIB since 2014 after leading the Spanish Official Credit Institute from 2012 to 2014. He was director of international relations at BBVA between 2006 and 2011. He also served as chief economic adviser to the former prime minister José María Aznar from 2000 to 2004.

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