The outgoing President of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem spoke of his regret in handling the eurozone crisis, mentioning in particular Greece and Cyprus.
He was visiting London on Thursday to speak at the London School of Economics on the ‘Challenges for the Eurozone’ and he also gave an interview to the Financial Times.
According to the newspaper, referring to the bail out of Cyprus in 2013 and speaking about the initial proposal to impose “a levy on bank depositors, including those with savings of less than 100,000 euros who would normally be protected by EU law”, the former Dutch Finance Minister “concedes he did not convince public opinion that the plan did not violate the EU bank deposit guarantee and says he regrets the episode, even though the Cypriot government suggested the levy.”
Dijsselbloem says the final version of the bail-in was a “game changer” with ramifications beyond Cyprus, adding that it was a step that paved the way for a eurozone banking union, which would combine EU-level mechanisms for the financial system with rules on creditor liability.
At the LSE Jeroen Dijsselbloem answered questions mainly about Greece. He said he regrets the way that the banks were bailed out “at the expense of the taxpayers”, although this was not a decision he was involved in.
He praised the Greek Prime Minister and the current Finance Minister for being “very committed to bringing Greece again politically and economically at the heart of the eurozone”, following the “crisis” of 2015 and the actions of Yanis Varoufakis.
“A Greek friend gave me a bottle of ouzo some time ago. It is in my office and I will keep it there unopened. The day that Greece exits the programme in August, that bottle of ouzo will be emptied,” said Mr Dijsselbloem who hand over the chairmanship of the Eurogroup to Mario Centeno of Portugal tomorrow.