Dutch foreign minister Timmermans up for ‘weighty’ Brussels job

The cabinet is nominating foreign minister Frans Timmermans as the next Dutch representative on the European Commission, civil service sources in The Hague have told the Volkskrant.

Timmermans, who has won widespread praise for his actions in the wake of the MH17 plane crash, would replace Neelie Kroes, the current digital agenda commissioner, who has said she does not wish to serve a third term in Brussels.

The Volkskrant said the choice of Timmermans is surprising because finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem had been tipped for the role.

Commission president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker is due to present his team next week and negotiations are currently under way. However, Juncker is not said to be keen on Dijsselbloem, who called him a heavy drinker in public and is financially a hawk, the Volkskrant said.

The Volkskrant says Rutte still needs to ensure a heavyweight job for Timmermans and if this is not forthcoming, foreign trade minister Lilianne Ploumen will be the Dutch candidate instead. Both Timmermans and Ploumen are Labour ministers.

Euro group

Dijsselbloem may also lose his role as chairman of the influential Euro group after one term in office, Dutch media reported at the weekend.

Various media sources say Dijsselbloem faces a direct challenge from Spanish finance minister Luis De Guindos, whom German chancellor Angela Merkel came out in favour of last week.

Nevertheless, the Netherlands seems set to press ahead with Dijsselbloem’s campaign for a second term. ‘It is extremely likely’ Dijsselbloem will be nominated for a second term at the helm of the influential Euro group, Rutte said on Saturday.

Speaking after the EU summit at which Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk was chosen to succeed Herman van Rompuy as chairman, Rutte said ‘I think there is a good chance he [Dijsselbloem] will continue if that is what he wants.’

The position of Euro group chairman runs for two years and Dijsselbloem’s term expires in 2015.

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