Sunday 23 November 2014

Juncker backs Dutch minister to take over at Eurogroup helm

Michele Sinner

Published 19/01/2013 | 05:00

Luxembourg' s Prime Minister and Eurogroup Chairman Jean- Claude Juncker (centre) meets with Netherlands' Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloemin Luxembourg

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has won the backing of Germany as well as one of Europe's most influential deal brokers, Jean-Claude Juncker, to take over at the helm of the Eurogroup, the powerful body of eurozone finance ministers.

Mr Juncker, the outgoing Eurogroup president, gave his endorsement to Mr Dijsselbloem during the Dutchman's visit to Luxembourg yesterday. He has been widely expected to take on the role of chairing the ministers' meetings.

"The Dutch finance minister presented his candidacy, which is a good one," Mr Juncker told reporters. Earlier, a spokeswoman for Germany's finance minister said that Wolfgang Schaeuble strongly backed Mr Dijsselbloem's appointment.

The decision on the appointment will be taken on Monday, when eurozone finance ministers meet in Brussels. Finance Minister Michael Noonan has already backed Mr Dijsselbloem for the role.

Finland, which like Germany is a AAA-rated eurozone member, is also in favour.

The appointment of a minister from the Netherlands, which belongs to a group of northern European countries in favour of austerity and strict economic reform, has received a cooler response elsewhere.

France, which faces an urgent need for economic reform, remained silent yesterday. Earlier this week, its finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, told a German newspaper that he wanted to know more about Mr Dijsselbloem's agenda.

Mr Dijsselbloem said he would present his priorities for the role at Monday's meeting.

"My French colleague has asked me for a presentation on my vision on the Eurogroup," he said. "I am very glad to give that on Monday."

Mr Dijsselbloem (46) was appointed finance minister of the Netherlands last November and was identified by European leaders shortly afterwards as a successor to Mr Juncker.

The president of the Eurogroup is appointed for two-and-a-half years, although Mr Juncker chaired the gathering since 2005, helping shape the response to the eurozone crisis.

Irish Independent

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