Likely new Eurogroup head wants to move on from crisis-fighting
BERLIN (Reuters) - The man likely to head the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers told his colleagues on Monday he wanted to move on from simply fighting crises and focus on longer-term policies to cement fledgling confidence.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister expected to be appointed Eurogroup chairman later in the day, also said he saw an enhanced role for his new job.
In a letter to his euro zone colleagues outlining what he would focus on if chosen, Dijsselbloem said he would push to be invited to meetings of finance ministers and central bankers from the world's 20 biggest economies, the G20.
The Dutch minister, who only took his national post three months ago, said the euro zone should continue with reforms and fiscal consolidation that have pleased investors.
"We now need to keep the momentum going, to ensure we retain the confidence we managed to regain in a lasting manner," he said. "Our focus needs to shift from crisis management to delivering and implementing sound medium-term policies."
Dijsselbloem said policies in the euro zone, which is in recession, had to be focused on restoring sustainable growth, for which sound fiscal policy was indispensable, but such policies should be individually tailored.
"The speed of fiscal adjustment should continue to be based on country-specific fiscal and macro-financial risks," he said in the letter, seen by Reuters.
He said countries should focus on the structural budget balance, which excludes increased spending and lower revenues typical for an economic downturn.
The Netherlands is one of only four euro zone countries to have retained the highest credit rating throughout the crisis and has been one of the hardliners, along with Germany and Finland on the need for tough austerity in countries benefiting from euro zone support - Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.
Dijsselbloem is set to replace Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as chairman of the Eurogroup, the monthly meeting of finance ministers which is a powerful policymaking body key to dealing with the debt crisis.
(Writing by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Rex Merrifield/Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)