Portugal spending EU cash on wine and women?

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Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of Eurogroup is under fire after an interview in a German newspaper where he accused Southern European countries of wasting money on ‘wine and women’.

Portugal has called for the Dutch Finance Minister to stand down and said he was completely out of tune with reality.  Dijsselbloem has however refused to apologise, and stands by his comments that countries like Portugal should “also have duties and can’t spend their money on women and alcohol and then ask for help.”

Portugal’s Prime Minister, António Costa, subsequently called for Jereon Dijsselbloem to resign and said his comments in a newspaper interview about southern European countries were “absolutely unacceptable” and “very dangerous”.

Dijsselbloem is also the finance minister of the Netherlands, but is set to be replaced following his party’s dismal showing in the Dutch elections. “Europe will only be credible as a common project on the day that Mr. Djisselblom stops being president of the Eurogroup and of course that there is an apology to all the countries and peoples who were profoundly offended by these statements,” Prime Minister Costa was reported as saying by the Lusa News Agency.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem

“As a social democrat, I consider solidarity an extremely important value. But we also have obligations. You cannot spend all your money on women and alcohol and then ask for help”, Dijsselbloem said in an interview with Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“These statements by Mr. Jeroen Dijsselbloem are absolutely unacceptable. They’re also very dangerous, because they show the dangers of populism and that populism is not only in those who have the courage to admit that they are. It’s also in those who appear wearing sheep’s clothing, because they say things that are racist, xenophobic and sexist, like the remarks by Mr. Dijsselbloem”, António Costa told Lusa.

Dijsselbloem has so far refused to apologise for his comments.

António Costa also said this week “we are currently confronted in Europe with many threats and we should respond to them with more European unity. Unity is not built by stigmatising one another and creating new divisions, but on the contrary, by respecting each other and making an effort for great unity.”

Portugal “will not take lessons from Mr. Dijsselbloem on anything” as the country “has scrupulously respected its commitments to the European Union, with the lowest deficit in 42 years of democracy.”

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