‘Finance minister ignored senior officials over euro crisis’

Finance minister Jan Kees de Jager ignored his three most senior officials when he said banks should help pay for the cost of saving Greece, according to a new book by Financieele Dagblad journalist Martin Visser.


The book, entitled De eurocrisis, states that in spring 2011, De Jager was warned that the panic on the financial markets would intensify if he pressed for a contribution from banks and other financial institutions.
Nevertheless, the minister went ahead with his demands, and made the issue part of the public discussion. The civil servants included Klaas Knot, who is now head of the Dutch central bank.
Political points
The book says De Jager could score political points by forcing the banks to contribute to the rescue package and would win in popularity stakes. The move also made it easier to win the support of the Dutch Labour party for the plans.
Although German chancellor Angela Merkel had first mooted the idea of the private sector contributing to the rescue package in 2010, she wanted the measure to be introduced in 2013, when the permanent rescue fund was to be set up.
De Jager, the book states, was the driving force in Europe to make the banks start paying in 2011. His persistence eventually bore fruit. At the beginning of this week, the banks agreed to take a loss of up to 70% on their Greek bonds.