Dutch minister poised to lead Eurogroup

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Dutch minister poised to lead Eurogroup

Dutch minister poised to lead Eurogroup
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The first meeting of 2013 of the Eurogroup of finance ministers was the last for Jean-Claude Juncker.

The prime minister of Luxembourg, and as such the longest serving head of government in an EU state, had led the group for the last eight years.

One reporter asked if he was glad to be stepping down from the madhouse.

“I don’t know if it is a madhouse, but I am happy to get out of this place. For six months I have been asking who will get me out of here?” Juncker quipped.

The French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici had initial doubts about Juncker’s successor Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

“Mr. Dijssenbloem is a friendly and intelligent man who is independent and has only recently joined us. What I asked – and this is natural – is how he expects to chair the group and what his thinking is on several of the big issues,” he explained.

The 46-year-old Labour politician is a relative newcomer on the European political stage. The agricultural economist was appointed Dutch finance minister in November.

As president he will chair monthly meetings of the 17 finance ministers from eurozone countries and represent them internationally.

Along with appointing a new president the group is also discussing a possible bailout for Cyprus and further aid to Greece.

Our correspondent in Brussels Margherita Sforza said: “Not all countries are happy with the candidacy of the Dutch finance minister, according to what we heard from diplomatics. But the German endorsement will be decisive when it’s time to vote. Anyway, Jeroen Dijsselbloem won’t be elected without conditions: today, on France’s request, he’ll have to present his vision to the other Eurogroup members.”