Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has been elected as the head of the Eurogroup on Monday, replacing Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who held the post for the past eight years.
Dijsselbloem, a relatively new comer on the European political scene, was appointed the Minister of Finance in the Rutte-Asscher government on November 5, 2012. He was elected to the new role for a term of two and a half years.
Dijsselbloem was a member of the House of Representatives from March 28, 2000 to May 22, 2002 and from November 19, 2002 until taking up his post as minister.
After being elected to the post, Dijsselbloem said the role of Eurogroup in the preparation and follow-up of euro area summits needs to be developed further. He also promised to examine the need to update the Eurogroup working methods as the current methods date back to 2008.
In a statement issued after the meeting, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said, "Having met all 17 heads of state and government of the euro area, I am convinced that he has broad support."
However, there had been voices of objection within the euro area, as some were skeptical on the agricultural economist's ability to lead the body as he was relatively inexperienced and less influential compared to Juncker.
Eurogoup is a group consisting of finance ministers of 17 euro area nations. Juncker was Eurogroup's first-ever permanent president. Prior to Juncker, the Eurogroup was chaired on a rotating basis.
After the meeting, Van Rompuy remarked that Juncker led Eurogroup during the most difficult period "with a smile and sense of humour."
Meanwhile, Juncker reportedly told media that a decision on Cyprus' bailout, which is estimated to be around 17 billion euros, can be taken in March. The size of the rescue package is roughly equivalent to the country's annual economic output.
In a separate statement, the Eurogroup said that 2 billion euros of the second installment under the second economic adjustment program for Greece would be disbursed later this month.
It also noted that a further amount to cover bank recapitalisation and resolution costs of 7.2 billion euros would also be paid out to Greece following the formal decision by the EFSF Board of Directors.
by RTT Staff Writer
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