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Dijsselbloem under fire after saying southern Europe wasted money on ‘drinks and women’

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Italian, Spanish and Portuguese politicians are asking the head of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, to resign following comments where he implied that southern European nations were wasting all their money on "drinks and women."

Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup which is the euro zone's group of finance ministers, said in an interview to a German newspaper on Monday that "during the crisis of the euro, the countries of the North have shown solidarity with the countries affected by the crisis."

He added: "As a Social Democrat, I attribute exceptional importance to solidarity. (But) you also have obligations. You cannot spend all the money on drinks and women and then ask for help."

These comments were seen as loosely targeting southern European nations who have needed cash bailouts since the sovereign debt crises that begun in 2011. They were picked up by Spanish lawmakers at the European Parliament on Tuesday during a hearing with Dijsselbloem.

However, the Dutch politician refused to apologize for such comments, saying these were not directed to one country, but to all countries. He also added that asking for fiscal discipline should not be seen as an attack.

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Dijsselbloem's reaction sparked a revolt among south European politicians. Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Wednesday on Facebook that Dijsselbloem lost a good opportunity to be quiet on Tuesday and added that the sooner he resigns the better.

On Tuesday night, members of the Spanish and Portuguese governments also voiced their disapproval for such comments and asked for Dijsselbloem's resignation.

Luis de Guindos, the Spanish Finance minister, who has tried to gain control Dijsselbloem's seat in the Eurogroup, said the comments were unfortunate and he would hope Dijsselbloem had regretted making them.

The future of Dijsselbloem as a leading EU official was already at risk following a general election in the Netherlands last week, where his Labour Party saw a dramatic setback.

As a result, Dijsselbloem is unlikely to keep his role as Dutch Finance minister and therefore the presidency of the Eurogroup. Until now, every euro finance ministers' chief has been a sitting Finance minister. But until a new coalition government in the Netherlands is in place, which could take months, Dijsselbloem is due to carry on with the Eurogroup presidency.

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