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Dutch finance minister gains support for Eurogroup bid

By Toby Vogel  -  10.01.2013 / 05:53 CET
Jeroen Dijsselbloem the favourite to replace Jean-Claude Juncker.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister, was on a tour of European capitals earlier this week to firm up member states' support for his appointment as president of the Eurogroup. He could be appointed as early as the next meeting of eurozone finance ministers on 21 January. 

Dijsselbloem emerged last month as the frontrunner for the job, which has been held for the past seven years by Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister. The Eurogroup – the regular meetings of eurozone finance ministers – is the main venue for economic policymaking in the EU.

The 46-year-old, who was virtually unknown outside the Netherlands until his appointment as finance minister in November, met Pierre Moscovici, France's finance minister, in Paris yesterday (9 January). He had previously held talks with Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, in Brussels on Monday (7 January), and with Vittorio Grilli, Italy's economy and finance minister, in Rome on Tuesday.

Ticking all the boxes

The talks with Moscovici were seen as crucial for Dijsselbloem's appointment. The agricultural engineer with little finance experience comes from a country with a triple-A credit rating whose centre-right prime minister is a leading fiscal hawk – a core demand from Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, for the new Eurogroup chief.

François Hollande, France's president, was reported to have misgivings, but Dijsselbloem is at least from the same political family as Hollande, as a member of the centre-left junior partner, Labour, in the Liberal-led coalition government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Michael Noonan, Ireland's finance minister, said on Tuesday (8 January) that the issue of the Eurogroup president had not yet been discussed formally but that Dijsselbloem was “ready, willing and able” to do the job.

© 2014 European Voice. All rights reserved.

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