Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said he has “reasons to believe” Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem could be his successor as head of the group of 17 euro-area finance chiefs.
“I have reasons to believe that the Dutch finance minister could become chairman of the eurogroup,” Juncker said in an interview with Luxembourg radio 100.7 yesterday. He said he expects to request nominations by early January and “that there will only be one candidacy.”
Juncker, who was appointed to a new 30-month term as eurogroup head in July, said earlier this month that he will step down from that role by the end of January. Juncker has led meetings of the euro-area finance ministers since 2005.
“The news that’s been repeated that leaders of the euro area came to an agreement at the last summit” last week in Brussels “is wrong,” Juncker said in the interview. “I don’t exclude -- not at all -- that my Dutch colleague will take over this role, but there’s been no agreement on this and there was no discussion among the 17 on this either.”
Dijsselbloem, 46, told Dutch RTL television on Dec. 18 that he would consider leading the eurogroup if asked, though he hasn’t been approached about the position. A member of the Labor Party, he was named as the Netherlands’ finance minister on Nov. 5 as part of Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition government following elections in September.
Other EU leaders have indicated they wouldn’t oppose Dijsselbloem. Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen said on Dec. 17 that he had “nothing against” the Dutch finance minister succeeding Juncker at the eurogroup.
Euro-area finance ministers oversee the 17-nation economy and manage bailouts from the bloc’s rescue funds. Ministers usually meet about once a month and have recently held a series of emergency sessions as they combat the debt crisis. Their next scheduled meeting is on Jan. 21 in Brussels.
Juncker said in the radio 100.7 interview that he is in regular contact with European Union President Herman Van Rompuy, who like Juncker, consults other government leaders.
“I expect that after some more talks with Van Rompuy, in early January I will ask my colleagues to submit candidacies on which we will vote at the eurogroup meeting in January,” said Juncker. “I expect that there will be one candidacy only.”