Timmermans likely European Commissioner; Dijsselbloem out: report

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is no longer the leading candidate for position as European Commissioner. Instead, sources in Brussels and The Hague tell De Volkskrant that the Cabinet has placed Minister Frans Timmermans of Foreign Affairs at the head of candidates for Dutch European Commissioner.

President-elect of the European Commission, Jean-Caude Juncker reportedly does not want Dijsselbloem in his team. PvdA Minister Timmermans is pinned as the best candidate for Vice President of the Commission. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has not yet received clarity on this from Juncker.

This week, Rutte will have to set up a strong portfolio for Timmermans, as Juncker will announce his team next week. If Rutte and Timmermans are not happy with Jucker's definitive offer, then the Cabinet may push forward Minister Lilianne Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation. According to sources, Rutte has already approached Ploumen about her possible availability as European Commissioner.

According to the Algemeen Dagblad, Ploumen is also favorable as a candidate because Juncker still has to meet the quota of female representation within his team. With fewer than nine women, he risks a 'nay' vote in the European Parliament.

The choice to push Timmermans as Commissioner rather than Dijsselbloem comes as somewhat of a surprise, as it was always presumed that the Finance Minister was a favorite candidate for the position. According to the Volkskrant, the Cabinet and the PvdA - also Dijsselbloem's party - only want the Minister to go to Brussels under the post of Economic and Monetary Affairs. Juncker wants this position to go to French ex-minister Moscovici.

The Algemeen Dagblad as well as the Volkskrant write that Dijsselbloem may be reaping the effects of his own lack of caution by calling Juncker out as a chain smoker and drinker in television show Knevel & Van Brink earlier this year. With these words he dug his own grave, then.

Currently, Minister Dijsselbloem is combining his Ministerial position with that of Eurogroup president. Minister Rutte said on Saturday that Dijsselbloem will definitely ask for a second term. This depends on a Commission post this year, however. Since this is not guaranteed, Minister Dijssebloem may be replaced as Eurogroup president by the Spanish Minister of Finance De Guindos, who is supported by Germany.

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