The head of the eurozone’s finance ministers has been criticised for stating that southern European countries blew their money on “drinks and women”.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who leads the group, made the comments in an interview on Monday with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
“During the crisis of the euro, the countries of the north have shown solidarity with countries affected by the crisis,” he said.
“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.”
Inside the European parliament, MEPs turned on Mr Dijsselbloem on Tuesday, calling his remarks “insulting” and “vulgar”.
Gabriel Mato, a Spanish MEP, said the remarks were “absolutely unacceptable” and an “insult” to southern member states – claiming he had lost his neutrality as finance chief.
Ernest Urtasun, another Spanish MEP, said: “Maybe this is funny for you, but I don’t think it is. I would like to know if this is your first statement as a candidate to renew your post as president of the eurogroup.”
Mr Dijsselbloem’s term ends next year, and he is believed to be considering running for re-election.
He attempted to brush off the criticism, telling the MEPs: “Don’t be offended.”
He then attempted to dig himself out of the hole by saying all countries had failed to uphold the financial rules set by the EU.