António Costa says that the Dutch Finance Minister's speech is "disgusting"

After the Dutch finance minister asked the European Commission to investigate countries such as Spain and Italy, as they did not have a financial cushion that would allow them to face the crisis caused by Covid-19, the prime minister criticized the Hague's attitude.

António Pedro Santos / Lusa

António Costa described the statements by the Dutch Finance Minister as “disgusting”, at the end of a meeting of the leaders of the countries of the European Union (EU).

Wopke Hoekstra argued that the European Commission should investigate countries like Spain or Italy for not having accumulated a financial cushion in recent years that would allow it to face the crisis caused by the new coronavirus at the moment.

"This speech is disgusting within the framework of the European Union and the expression is really this: disgusting," said the prime minister at a press conference on Thursday night. "No one is available to hear from Dutch finance ministers like the ones we have heard in 2008, 2009, 2010 and years running."

“This recurring meanness completely undermines the spirit of the EU, and threatens the future of the EU. And if the EU wants to survive, it is unacceptable that a politician, from whatever country, can give answers of this nature in the face of a pandemic like the one we are experiencing, it was at the expense of this that we all realized that it was unbearable to work with you [Jeroen] Dijsselbloem [former Dutch finance minister]. But apparently there are countries that insist on changing their names, but keeping people with the same profile ”, said António Costa after the six-hour videoconference.

The prime minister thus recalled the controversial episode that involved Jeroen Dijsselbloem, then president of the Eurogroup, when he accused southern Europeans of spending their money "on glasses and women" and "then asking them to help them". A controversy that led the government of António Costa to ask for his removal from the leadership of the Eurogroup.

At the European Council meeting on Thursday - and as in the years of the sovereign debt crisis starting in 2011 - the European Union split into two blocs. France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Slovenia defended the need to issue eurobonds to finance measures to mitigate the economic impact of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic, according to the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant . On the other side of the barricade, four countries defend a tougher line: without issuing eurobonds: Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland.

“It is a good time for everyone to understand that it was not Spain that created the virus, nor was it Spain that imported the virus. The virus unfortunately hit everyone equally, ”said António Costa.

“If we don't all respect each other and if we don't understand that in the face of a common challenge, we have to be able to respond in common, so nobody understood anything about the EU. If someone in the EU thinks he solves the problem of the virus by letting it go, he is very wrong, ”said the prime minister.

The meeting of European leaders was very close to ending in failure, as El País writes, after Italy and Spain decided to reject signing a vague statement without concrete measures.

Spain's denial came at a time when the President of the European Council, Belgian Charles Michel, asked if there was an agreement: “No”, replied the Spanish Prime Minister, warning that he would not sign “any agreement that does not establish a clear mandate so that ministers of economy can continue to work ”in an economic plan to respond to the crisis, according to El País.

Faced with Spain's refusal, supported by Italy, the leaders accepted a 15-day delay to try to agree on a plan to respond economically to the coronavirus pandemic.



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