Eurozone: Jeroen Dijsselbloem, a tough chairman for the Eurogroup

21 January 2013 – Presseurop De Volkskrant, Público

After months of discussions, eurozone finance ministers eventually found a successor as Eurogroup chairman to Luxemburg’s prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker. During the January 21 meeting in Brussels, they are expected to appoint Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem (labour party PvdA), reports De Volkskrant. The newspaper adds that the only critic of the Dutch candidate, French finance minister Pierre Moscovici, announced on French TV channel TV5 that he has dropped his opposition to the appointment.

De Volkskrant columnist Martin Sommer, is pleased to report that Dijsselbloem will prove more eurosceptic than his predecessor, saying –

Juncker […] thought the European leaders knew exactly what to do, and that it’s just a pity that the electorate is hard to convince. This has been the heart of the European way of thinking for ages, and if my feeling about Dijsselbloem is correct, his attitude is completely different.

Sommer thinks Dijsselbloem will be a welcome counterbalance to the other three presidents of the EU –

Dijsselbloem is […] an advocate of evidence based policy, which seems to me to be a good guiding principle in Europe. It’s also close to the views of [prime minister] Mark Rutte, who doesn’t want any long term visions [of the EU]. This is exactly what we need in the company of [EU Commission president] Barroso, [ECB president] Draghi and [EU Council] Van Rompuy. All three of them are heading full speed towards a ‘total Union’. Besides, all three all three catholics from the south.

Público has a radically different opinion. The Lisbon daily states that “the departure of Jean-Claude Juncker from the Eurogroup marks the end of a cycle and it is negative for Portugal.”

This is not a good news for Portugal, for the single currency and European integration. He has always been an ally of Portugal and never stopped warning about the excesses of a "punitive" culture that rich countries of the north, impose on a south beset by crisis.

Público also finds Dijsselbloem’s capacity for negotiation matches that of his predecessor –

Jean-Claude Juncker was always able to create a bridge between the two extremes of the Paris-Berlin axis. This capacity for dialogue is also recognised in his successor. But Jeroen Dijsselbloem will assume this role as representative of the wealthy and without the political weight of his predecessor. He is a man of another Europe, where EU institutions have lost power and where integration is done not in the name of federalism, but as part of a power struggle in which the EU’s centre shifts from Brussels to Berlin.

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