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EU boss promises to be more careful with his words after 'booze and women' confrontation

Jasper Juinen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has pledged to be "more careful" with his choice of words after offending Southern European countries with his "booze and women" remarks.

Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of the 19 euro zone finance ministers, said in a letter on Tuesday that in his interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung he did not intend to criticize South Europe when making comments that some countries spent money on "booze and women" in the run up to the financial crisis.

"In the days following the publication of the interview my words were linked to the situation in countries in Southern Europe during the crisis years. It is very unfortunate that this link was made as this was not what I said. And it certainly was not what I had intended," Dijsselbloem said in the letter.

Several high ranking officials in Italy and Portugal asked for Dijsselbloem's resignation following his remarks to the newspaper.

"Regrettably, some people were offended by the way I expressed myself. Choice of words is of course personal as is the way they are picked up. I shall be even more careful in the future as it is never my intention to insult people," the Dutch politician, known for his hard stance on financial discipline, said.

The future of Dijsselbloem as a leading EU official has been at risk following a general election in the Netherlands last month, 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. Though his mandate concludes only in January of 2018, the fact that until now every euro finance ministers' chief has been a sitting finance minister indicates that he is likely to lose the European job.

At the moment there are only two possible names that could replace Dijsselbloem. One of them is the economy minister of Spain, Luis de Guindos. He has previously run against Dijsselbloem for the presidency of the Eurogroup but he failed to gather enough support at the time.

Another possible name is Peter Kazimir, the Slovak finance minister. He is also known as a hard-liner when it comes to the Greek bailout and fiscal discipline and belongs to a center-left party, which could play in his favour.

At the moment, the heads of the European Council, European Commission and European Parliament are members of the center right and when appointing new members for key roles, past votes show that they try to get some political balance across institutions.

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