Tuesday, 22 January 2013

EUROPE:''Jeroen Dijsselbloem'': Appointed as the new head of the Euro Group

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has been appointed as the new head of the Euro Group, where he is expected to lead with a different style than his predecessor. The politician is considered a tough reformer, but his message of fostering growth is likely to be welcomed in Southern Europe. 

Jeroen Dijsselbloem  (born 29 March 1966) is a Dutch politician of the Labour Party (PvdA). He has been the Finance Minister since November 5, 2012. On 20 February 2012, Dijsselbloem became the Parliamentary leader of the Dutch Labour Party in the House of Representatives, serving until 20 March 2012 when Diederik Samsom was elected as the next Labour Party's leader.

A father to a teenaged son and daughter, Dijsselbloem has cited Dutch left-wing wartime leader Wiardi Beckman, who died in Dachau after being arrested by the Nazis in 1942, as his greatest political inspiration.

Before becoming minister, Dijsselbloem was best known in the Netherlands for arguing in parliament for less violent music videos on MTV, based upon his experiences visiting immigrant neighbourhoods, acquiring the nickname of "moral knight".

The 46-year-old member of the Dutch Labor Party (PvdA), analogous to the Social Democrats, said on Monday that it is a great honor to succeed Juncker. He also predicted that 2013 will be a decisive year for the European common currency.

The choice of Dijsselbloem to lead the Euro Group, the name given to gatherings of the 17 euro-zone finance ministers, was not uncontroversial. Indeed, he wasn't even elected unanimously by his 16 colleagues. French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici managed to overcome his concerns, noting that Dijsselbloem was the only candidate and thus the best candidate. But Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos chose not to vote for the Dutchman.

The reason for the doubts can be found in the euro zone's north-south divide. The common currency area's Mediterranean members are unhappy that almost all key euro-zone posts are held by countries that enjoy triple-A credit ratings from the ratings agencies. The European Stability Mechanism, Europe's €700 billion currency backstop, is headed up by Regling, a German. Thomas Wieser of Austria heads up the Euro Working Group. Monetary Affairs Commissioner Rehn is from Finland. And now, the Euro Group head is from the Netherlands. The only exception is European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who is from Italy.

The challenges facing him, however, are large. He will be faced with striking a delicate balance between the differing interests of euro-zone members. But he also recognized that something must be done to boost growth and combat unemployment.

Another more visible challenge is his lack of experience. The new eurogroup front man, has only 11 ministerial experience. He could overcome this experience deficit by carefully listening to what other euro finance ministers say. He is expected to go along in very fashionably way with French Socialist's finance minister and German's.  But I can personaly see Dijsselbloem becomes a key ally for French President Francois Hollande in his battle against German-led austerity. ( I can also be wrong).

Dijsselbloem is a blank page. It's too early really to have a proper idea of what he thinks and what he will do, what his financial and economic positions are, but one thing I do know is that: Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s reputation as an austere bridge-builder will serve him well as the new head of the Eurogroup, coordinating deficit-busting policies in the crisis-hit euro zone.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist