Dutch finance minister looks likely to succeed Juncker


After just 50 days on the job, the new Dutch finance minister, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has been named in Germany as the man most likely to succeed Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the Eurogroup. Euro zone leaders reached an informal agreement at last week’s European Council, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

A Dutch finance ministry spokesman yesterday said he had no comment on its minister or any other names mentioned in the press. With a formal announcement due in January, Berlin declined to confirm or deny the report yesterday saying only that leaders had “possibly” discussed the issue at the Brussels summit.

Summit attendees last week confirmed that a list of Juncker’s successors was doing the rounds. Asked about this, the bespectacled, curly-haired Dutchman joked: “It would be more of a worry if one’s name wasn’t on the list.”

At first glance he is not an immediate choice acceptable to all euro zone leaders. Not only is he a Social Democrat in a Christian Democrat-dominated currency bloc, the 46-year-old from Eindhoven only took up his new job last month.

But Mr Dijsselbloem, an agricultural science graduate and former civil servant, has attracted attention in European capitals with his promise to continue the budget discipline of his Christian Democrat predecessor, including a plan for €16 billion in cuts. Mr Dijsselbloem was first elected to the Hague parliament 12 years ago.

He is known in his party as a sober, sometimes humourless figure. Given the part-time Eurogroup position is not a barrel of laughs, it could be a good fit.