Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s absence from today’s plenary has provoked a strong reaction from GUE/NGL MEPs.

The Dutch finance minister was supposed to lead the debate on the second review of the economic adjustment programme for Greece at 3pm today. But a late change to the agenda means in Dijsselbloem’s place will now be the Council and the Commission’s statements on Greece.

Some have accused Dijsselbloem of shirking his public duties in light of a recent interview to a German newspaper in which he appeared to compare the economic situation of southern eurozone countries to someone wasting money on “alcohol and women” and then asking for help.

German MEP Fabio De Masi – who first tabled an Oral Question for the April II on behalf of GUE/NGL and then requested a Council statement on Dijsselbloem’s remark for this week’s plenary session – comments:

“As the Dutch finance minister and the biggest loser of the recent elections there, Jeroen Dijsselbloem has now refused to appear as the Eurogroup president in front of the plenary. But the informal nature in the Eurogroup’s structure has let gutless Dijsselbloem off the hook.”

“GUE/NGL initiated the request for his presence in Strasbourg – a call echoed by EP President Tajani. Dijsellbloem should apologise in plenary. Nevertheless, it is long overdue that he resigns as the Eurogroup chief and for the EU to have a serious debate about the undemocratic character of that informal group.”

“As the Eurogroup chief and Wolfgang Schäuble's adjutant in enforcing harsh austerity policies in Europe, Dijsselbloem is also the finance minister of a renowned tax haven. His latest remarks with analogies to alcohol and women when analysing the economic crisis in southern Europe demonstrate his incompetence and utter lack of character. His comments also distract from the fact that it was northern European banks which got saved in the euro crisis,” De Masi continues.

“The GUE/NGL group had already submitted an Oral Question to the Council last week and we have also asked the Council to clarify if they find Dijsselbloem's remarks appropriate and economically correct. We will request this Oral Question to be on the next plenary session at the end of April. Mr Dijsselbloem would then have another chance to appear in front of plenary. As the resentment against Dijsselbloem's absence goes beyond party politics, we hope the other groups will support us on this issue,” De Masi concludes.

Spanish MEP Marina Albiol was equally critical of Dijssembloem’s absence:

“The fact that Dijsselbloem has refused to come to the plenary is proof of how undemocratic the Eurogroup is.”

“Not only is there no transparency in the decision-making process, but there isn’t even the will to appear at a democratically-elected institution such as ours – unlike the Eurogroup – to explain himself.”

“We’re not talking about cowardice. Dijsselbloem isn’t appearing before the plenary because he doesn’t want to say this is what he really thinks about the citizens of the south of the EU,” argues Albiol.


Please click on this link to the Oral Question to the council. As the rules of procedure foresee a three-week deadline for submitting Oral Questions to the Council, it was not possible to have it included in time for this week's agenda.

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