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New Eurogroup head to be named on Monday

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LUXEMBOURG, Jan 18 AFP

January 19 2013, 00:57AM

The new head of the eurozone's group of 17 finance ministers will be named when they meet Monday, outgoing chair Jean-Claude Juncker says, with the Netherlands widely expected to take the post.

"The Dutch finance minister presented his candidature, which is a good one, and the decision will be taken next Monday," Juncker, Luxembourg's prime minister, said after meeting with Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Friday.

Dijsselbloem, who had said on Thursday he would formally announce his candidacy when meeting Juncker, told reporters he would present his views on how to manage the eurozone after more than three years of crisis to his colleagues on Monday.

"I want to thank Juncker for his work at the Eurogroup ... (and) all the advice he has given me as a newcomer to this financial world," said Dijsselbloem, 46, who was named finance minister only in November last year.

"We'll see Monday how it goes. My French colleague has asked for a presentation of ... (my) vision for the Eurogroup," he said.

"I am very glad to give that on Monday. That is a very reasonable request from the French colleague. We'll do that."

At one time, it had looked as if France wanted its finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, to take the Eurogroup post, but Paris could not reach a compromise with Germany, the eurozone's paymaster and biggest economy.

Moscovici said in Paris on Thursday that the Eurogroup should not rush into appointing a new chief, calling for the selection procedure to last "several weeks".

Apart from Dijsselbloem, there are no other candidates to head the Eurogroup, which coordinates policy on the single currency.

Juncker has been in the post since 2005. He has served through the worst of a debt crisis that several times appeared to threaten the euro's survival as Greece, Ireland and Portugal were forced into massive international bailouts.

In July, he tried to step down but in the absence of a compromise candidate agreeable to Paris and Berlin, he reluctantly said he would stay on until January, when he made an "irrevocable" decision to leave.

He has won widespread respect for his commitment to the euro and the wider European project, and is well-known for a mordant sense of humour. He will remain as Luxembourg's prime minister, a position he won in 1995.

In contrast, Dijsselbloem, from the PvdA Labour party, has barely two months of ministerial experience and little is known of his views on the future of the 17-nation currency union.

He told the Dutch parliament his presentation on Monday would focus on the Eurogroup's functioning and agenda.