Jeroen Dijsselbloem is “not fit to be president of the Eurogroup,” Socialist MEP leader Gianni Pittella said Tuesday, accusing the Dutch finance minister of making “discriminatory comments” about southern EU countries in German media.
Without naming names, Dijsselbloem told the Frankfurter Allgemeine on Monday that “countries in crisis” should stick to the deficit targets set by the European Commission and show the same solidarity as northern eurozone states during the financial crisis.
“As a social democrat, for me solidarity is extremely important,” Djisselbloem said. “But those who call for it (solidarity) also have duties. I cannot spend all my money on liquor and women and plead for your support afterwards. This principle applies on the personal, local, national and also European level.”
On Tuesday, Pittella described these comments as “shameful and shocking.”
“Dijsselbloem went far beyond by using discriminatory arguments against the countries of southern Europe,” he said. “There is no excuse or reason for using such language, especially from someone who is supposed to be a progressive.”
Dijsselbloem has been Eurogroup president since January 2013 and was re-elected for a second term in July 2015. However, his Dutch Labor Party (PvdA) did badly in last week’s election and he will almost certainly not stay on as finance minister.
Pittella said it was “not the first time” that Dijsselbloem has expressed opinions “which are openly in contradiction with the line of the European progressive family.”
“I truly wonder whether a person who has these beliefs can still be considered fit to be president of the Eurogroup,” he added.
Portuguese Foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva joined in the criticism, saying Dijsselbloem should not be able “to remain at the head of the Eurogroup and the Portuguese government shares this opinion.”
Florian Müller and Ivo Oliveira contributed to this article.