Common euro-area bonds haven’t been ruled out for good, said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who may succeed Jean-Claude Juncker next week as head of the group of euro-area finance chiefs.
“We’re not excluding this to eternity,” Dijsselbloem told Dutch lawmakers today in The Hague. The Dutch government could only support euro bonds as one of the final touches on a bolstered economic and monetary union, he said. “We’re really talking about the distant future.”
The prospect of common euro-area debt issuance fell off the European agenda indefinitely last year under pressure from Germany as Chancellor Angela Merkel, an opponent of joint bonds, prepared for an election later this year. In their place, European Union President Herman Van Rompuy proposed the exploration of a “common but limited” euro budget after 2014.
Dijsselbloem said he’ll present himself as a candidate for the Eurogroup job tomorrow in a meeting with Juncker, who has held the post for eight years. When finance ministers meet on Jan. 21 in Brussels, Dijsselbloem said he’ll provide his view on the group’s “agenda and functioning,” not his vision for the future of the euro.
Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said on Dec. 19 that he had “reason to believe” the Dutchman could be his successor as Eurogroup chief.
‘Burden-Sharing With Russia’
French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici raised concerns about the process used to find the new Eurogroup head. He criticized Dijsselbloem for not having outlined his vision for economic and financial policies, and said a decision wouldn’t be made until February, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported today.
In his remarks to the Dutch parliament, Dijsselbloem said the Eurogroup is studying “various ways of bailing in” investors in a rescue plan for Cyprus. He also held out the prospect of Russian involvement.
“There could definitely be burden-sharing with Russia,” he said, adding that talks have been held on rolling over Russia’s 2.5 billion-euro ($3.3 billion) loan to Cyprus made in 2011.
“Russia is committed,” he said. “It’s conceivable they could participate in a solution for Cyprus.”