Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager skipped the European Commission’s “no comment on comments” policy to criticise Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s remarks about southern member states.
The acting Dutch finance minister said in an interview on Monday (20 March) that these countries spent their money “on drinks and women” before asking for help. “I would not have said it, and I think It is wrong,” she said.
Dijsselbloem’s spokesperson said on Wednesday (21 March) that he was not referring to any country or group of countries.”His message is meant for all eurozone countries. Solidarity comes with obligations,” they stated.
The Dutchman has drawn criticism from across Europe. Notably, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa branded his comments “xenophobic” and called for him to resign, which was echoed by former Italian PM Matteo Renzi.
An official close to Dutch leader Mark Rutte confirmed that the finance minister retains the backing of the government .
The scandal comes at a bad time for Dijsselbloem, whose position as Eurogroup president is already in doubt after his political party suffered a huge collapse in the Netherlands’ recent elections.