Feb. 11 - Closer co-operation on exchange rate policy is high on the agenda at the first Eurogroup meeting with Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem in the chair. Sonia Legg reports.
It was his first meeting as Chairman of the Eurogroup and Jeroen Dijsselbloem had a possible war on his hands. Only a currency conflict but a growing one nonetheless. And one with the euro zone's biggest economies on opposite sides. Germany doesn't see the euro as overvalued - France does - French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER PIERRE MOSCOVICI, SAYING: "Confidence in the euro has returned, thanks to our work to regain it, but also because of the very aggressive methods of some of our partners. We must....have a coordinated approach that allows us to act for stability of the exchange rates within the frame of the G20." The fear of competitive devaluation by major economies began when the US Federal Reserve vowed to ease monetary policy. Then on Friday Venezuela devalued its currency by almost a third. Three days later the man likely to be Japan's next central bank chief voiced his support for a weaker yen. To cool the rhetoric G7 nations may issue a statement this week to re-affirm their commitment to "market-determined" exchange rates. Mike Ingram from BGC Partners says it's vital they avoid a currency war. (SOUNDBITE) (French) MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "Ultimately it leads us to a beggar thy neighbour policy like the one which blighted the economy in the 1930s. There are no winners from currency wars - what we are going to see in the meantime is probably a lot of appreciating emerging currency markets - people flying into these high yielding FX and a lot of agitating among the emerging market member of the G20 in the meantime." The other issue on the euro group's agenda has less global impact but could prove equally divisive. The tiny island of Cyprus needs to make its debt sustainable after a banking crisis. But it's firmly rejected an option to impose losses on depositors. And with elections later this month a final agreement isn't expected yet.