Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem received fiery criticism after refusing to retract the comment that southern European countries “spent all their money on drinks and women and then asked for help.”
The Dutch finance minister received strong criticism from members of the European Parliament, who labelled his comment “offensive” and “boorish.” Dijsselbloem made the comment in an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that was published on Monday.
Spanish MEP and member of the European People’s Party Gabriel Mato said that the comment is “absolutely unacceptable” and constitute “insult” to the southern EU Member States, arguing that the president of the Eurogroup has lost the necessary neutrality.
Spanish Green MEP Ernest Urtasun called the Dijsselbloem comment “unfortunate” and asked him if “is this your first statement as a candidate to renew your term as President of the Eurogroup?”
Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs Ausgusto Santos Silva said that the comment is “absolutely unacceptable” and Dijsselbloem “can not remain at the head of the Eurogroup”.
Nevertheless, the Eurogroup chief said that he will not apologize for his comment and that he will continue to defend the view that solidarity within the euro zone means that all Member States should adhere to the same financial rules on debt and deficit.
According to the excerpt of the interview in FAZ, Dijsselbloem had stated that: “During the euro crisis, the countries of the North had shown solidarity with the countries that were affected by the crisis. As a Social Democrat I put great importance in solidarity. But there are obligations, also. You can not spend all the money on drinks and women and then ask for help.”
Greek and its creditors still remained divided on the second review of Greek debt bailout program and finance ministers of the 19-member Eurozone agreed that talks would continue to intensify in the coming days, said Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Monday.
Although a lot of work had been done and progress made, some key issues still remained, Dijsselbloem told a press conference after Monday’s Eurogroup meeting which again failed to make any breakthrough.
The upcoming talks would “try to clear those big issues out of the way and come to a full policy package agreement” before next Eurogroup meeting scheduled on April 7, the president added, warning that there was no promise that work would be done then to end the marathon talks.
The second review of Greece’s third bailout, agreed in the summer of 2015, has been delayed for a year, as the two sides have not reached a consensus on the next package of austerity and reform measures.