Europe News

Brexit will be a key challenge for 2018, says next euro zone finance chief

Key Points
  • "Certainly we need to follow up on the Brexit process," Centeno said
  • However, the German and Italian elections do not worry the next Eurogroup chief
We have to accommodate for Brexit in our policies: Next Eurogroup president

The U.K.'s departure from the European Union is among the top concerns for the euro area going into 2018, the incoming Eurogroup chief told CNBC.

"Brexit is a challenge and it's a challenge that is a negative shock certainly for all these economies," Mario Centeno, the incoming Eurogroup president told CNBC exclusively Wednesday. The Eurogroup is the meeting of finance ministers from the 19 countries that share the euro.

When asked about potential risks for the euro zone in the new year, Centeno said that "certainly we need to follow up on the Brexit process that I expect to be understood as a structural reform." He added that politicians in the region need to give time for economies to adapt to these structural changes.

Though the U.K. voted to leave the European Union in the June of 2016, the process is far from over with the terms of its departure yet to be finalized. As a result, the economic shocks that can eventually come from that are still not fully known.

Ben Stansall | AFP | Getty Images

However, this should not prevent the euro area from continuing to reform, he said. "From a negative shock we can and we should build positive solutions," Centeno told CNBC.

Europe faces other challenges in the new year, with Germany having to overcome its political impasse and Italy voting on a new government in March. However, these events and their potential impacts on the euro area do not worry Centeno.

"If you look back and you see the results of the Dutch election, then of the French election, also somehow the German elections, we have been able in Europe to find solutions that are pretty much at the core of the development of Europe," Centeno said.

"So I won't be quite so worried about it," Centeno, who is also the finance minister of Portugal, added.