Monday

23rd Oct 2017

Dutch elections raise questions on Eurogroup's chair

  • Would Dijsselbloem remain Eurogroup president after losing his job as Ducth finance minister? (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

After his Labour party's substantial defeat in Wednesday's Dutch elections, Jeroen Dijsselbloem could stand to lose his finance minister portfolio but stay on as president of the Eurogroup.

The issue may be raised at Monday's meeting (20 March) of the eurozone finance ministers. EU officials and ministers are suggesting nobody would push Dijsselbloem out, at least for now.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Slovakia's Peter Kasimir would probably be a candidate if Dijsselbloem was to quit. (Photo: Council of the EU)

Negotiations for the next Dutch government have not started and could take weeks, or months, as a multi-party coalition will have to be found.

At least four parties or more are needed to form a majority coalition of 76 seats.

While it seems politically feasible to make a core of centre-right Liberals, together with the centre-right Christian-Democrats and the centrist pro-EU D66 party – 71 of 150 seats, the real challenge is finding a party to fill the gap.

The only scenario in which Dijsselbloem, elected as an MP, would return as finance minister would be in a grand coalition of the Liberals, Christian-Democrats, D66, and Labour.

But with only 9 seats, down from 29 in the outgoing parliament, the Labour Party will not be the first partner the Liberals will try to find. And, after 4.5 years in coalition with the Liberals that ended in a resounding defeat, Labour might prefer reinventing itself in opposition.

As long as a government is not formed, an EU official pointed out, "Dijsselbloem stays as caretaker minister".

Dijsselbloem has been finance minister since 2012. He was elected Eurogroup president in 2013 and renewed in July 2015. His 2.5-year mandate ends in January 2018.

According to the rules of the Eurogroup, an informal EU body, "a candidate needs to be minister of finance", the EU official said, suggesting that the principle would not apply to Dijsselbloem, who is already in place.

"That has no impact on the continued presidency of Jeroen Dijsselbloem," the official added.

Spanish finance minister Luis de Guindos was the candidate against Dijsselbloem in 2015. He declined to say on Thursday whether he would try to run for the post again.

"We have a president of the Eurogroup and he is the Dutch minister of finance, I will not anticipate events," De Guindos told journalists in Madrid.

He insisted that talks of Dijsselbloem leaving his position were "speculation", which he would not entertain "for the moment".

'Global balance'

A member of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), De Guindos would, however, face difficulties becoming Eurogroup president.

After the election of EPP's Antonio Tajani as European Parliament president to succeed Martin Schulz, the Eurogroup presidency is the last top EU post held by the Party of European Socialists (PES), with the head of the EU diplomacy held by Federica Mogherini.

"There is a global balance, in which one element of the puzzle has changed [political] colour," French finance minister Michel Sapin noted after the parliament election in January.

He said that the new post held by the EPP - along with the European Commission and Council presidency - "tilted the sharing of responsibilities on one side" and that it would be "an important element" to take into account when choosing a new Eurogroup chair.

A serious contender hailing from the PES would be Slovakia's Peter Kazimir.

In January, when asked about the possibility that Dijsselbloem might not remain finance minister after the Dutch election, Kazimir quipped: "Jeroen the first is still alive. It's not polite to raise the issue."

'Continuity and stability'

Kazimir said that Dijsselbloem was doing "an excellent job inside and outside" and that "he should stay, no matter the Dutch election outcome".

"We need continuity and stability," he added.

But sources said that if Dijsselbloem was to quit, Kazimir would probably be a candidate. Although a Socialist, he is one of the most hawkish ministers on the Greek crisis and would be acceptable to his right-wing colleagues.

With the Greek bailout still under way and currently stuck in difficult negotiations, as well as upcoming elections in France and Germany - the eurozone's two main countries - coming this spring and autumn, it is unlikely that Dijsselbloem's colleagues will ask him to leave before the end of his mandate.

Ultimately, the decision could be Dijsselbloem's, once he leaves his ministry for good.

Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock

Athens agreed on budget cuts worth up to €3.6 billion and extracted some concessions from creditors, but the IMF warned the package might not be enough.

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote

As the renewal of the weedkiller glyphosate is a hot potato on the EU agenda, with a vote in the Parliament on Thursday, the role of two closely-involved EU agencies has come under scrutiny.

Europeans more positive about EU, survey shows

On balance, 55 percent of British respondents said the UK had benefited from EU membership. Among all European respondents, 47 percent said their voice counted in the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks