Wednesday 15 July 2020

Dijsselbloem to learn on Friday if he will be next head of IMF

Former finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem will learn on Friday if he is to succeed Christine Lagarde as head of the International Monetary Fund.

The 53-year-old Labour (PvdA) politician is one of four contenders to take over the job, which has always been held by a European. The others are Spanish economics minister Nadia Calvino, Finnish central bank governor Olli Rehn and Bulgarian head of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva.

Portugal’s Mario Centeno, head of the committee of eurozone finance ministers known as the Eurogroup, has dropped out of the running but said he will be available as a compromise candidate if none of the four are deemed suitable.

The UK was given the chance to nominate a candidate but failed to come up with a name on time even after having its deadline extended on Thursday, Euronews reported.

Dijsselbloem was finance minister in Mark Rutte’s second cabinet between 2012 and 2017 and Centeno’s predecessor as Eurogroup chairman, where he was best known for his handling of the Greek financial crisis.

He clashed publicly with Greece’s finance minister of the time Yannis Varoufakis, calling the latter’s handing of the situation ‘catastrophic’.

Varoufakis gave his own account of events in his book, Adults in the Room, in which he derided Dijsselbloem as a poodle of German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble and resembling ‘a schoolboy who had been given a rebuke by a strict teacher.’

Dijsselbloem also raised the hackles of southern European politicians with his infamous ‘Schnapps and women’ remark in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, when he suggested that some countries had been too lax with their budgetary discipline. ‘I cannot spend all my money on drink and women and then ask for help,’ he said.

Dijsselbloem is reported to be favoured by several German officials and has been described as an ‘ideal candidate’ by Karel Lanoo, CEO of the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies.

‘When I ask around I hear that Dijsselbloem did far better [at the Eurogroup] than Centeno, Lannoo told RTL-Z. ‘He is also much more outspoken and direct than Centeno.’

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