Eurogroup President Dijsselbloem to stay on until January

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Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem will continue to be the president of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers until his term expires in January even though he will no longer be the finance minister of the Netherlands, he said on Monday.

Dijsselbloem’s labour party (PvdA) is not a part of Dutch coalition negotiations which are expected to be completed in the coming weeks, but he asked other euro zone finance ministers whether he could complete his term.

“There was unanimous support for that. Everybody was content with me staying on until mid January,” Dijsselbloem told a news conference in Luxembourg.

Ministers would vote for a new president at a meeting in December, Dijsselbloem added.

The president of  all euro zone finance ministers said there was no need to discuss the next chairmanship of the group at this stage, in an attempt to quell speculation about the time of his departure.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem said his intention was to remain chairman of the powerful informal group, that decides economic policy of the 19 countries sharing the euro, until his mandate expires in mid-January.

He said euro zone finance ministers, who gathered in Tallinn on Friday for a regular monthly meeting, did not address this issue. “There is no reason to discuss it,” he added, stressing that the timing for the formation of a new Dutch government, of which he is unlikely to be a member, was still unclear.

The chairman of euro zone finance ministers has customarily been an active finance minister as well, although it is not a legal requirement.

Eurozone expansion

Expansion and integration of the 19-country eurozone will continue simultaneously and it is not a choice of one or the other, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Friday.

“These processes will continue in parallel,” Dijsselbloem, who is also the Dutch finance minister, told a news conference in the Estonian capital Tallinn. “I don’t believe countries should be forced or pushed into this. It is not wise or realistic. So expanding the eurozone will continue and we need to strengthen it.”

The European Central Bank said in May that overall financial integration in the euro area “stalled” last year. Banking union and capital markets union are “undoubtedly the two central policy initiatives,” it said. Integration should create a more effective monetary union and strengthen financial stability.

All 28 European Union states, except the UK and Denmark, are required to join the currency bloc. To do so they must meet ‘convergence criteria’ to ensure their is no disruption to the eurozone upon accession. They cover controlled inflation, sound public finances, exchange rate stability and long-term interest rates.

The EU nations outside the eurozone are Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden.

The Eurogroup is is an informal body where eurozone ministers discuss matters concerning their shared responsibilities related to the currency. Its main task is to ensure close coordination of economic policies and also aims to promote conditions for stronger economic growth.