Eurozone leaders call on Dijsselbloem to step down over "xenophobic" remarks

Caitlin Morrison
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Dijsselbloem made the controversial remarks in an interview with a German newspaper (Source: Getty)

Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem has enraged European politicians with his remarks about EU financial aid spending.

The Dutch finance minister, who was reappointed as leader of the Eurogroup in July 2015, suggested southern European countries that received EU financial aid were spending their money "on booze and women" during an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung over the weekend.

Dijsselbloem said the wealthier northern European countries showed solidarity with the south during the euro crisis in 2010-2013 by giving them financial aid.

"But whoever demands it, also has obligations," he continued. "I can’t spend all my money on booze and women and then ask you for your support. This principle holds at personal, local, national and even European levels."

Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa today called on Dijsselbloem to step down over the remarks, which he described as "racist, xenophobic and sexist".

"Europe will only be credible as a common project on the day when Mr. Dijsselbloem stops being head of the eurogroup and apologises clearly to all the countries and peoples that were profoundly offended by his remarks," Costa said.

Spanish MEP Esteban Gonzalez Pons backed the calls for Dijsselbloem's resignation, slamming the "racist and male-chauvinist insult to the southern countries, and their women".

Meanwhile, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi took to Facebook to express his outrage at the comments, writing: "If he wants to offend Italy he should do it at the sports bar under his house, not in his institutional role."

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