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Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the embattled president of the Eurogroup, has promised to be more “careful” in his choice of words after accusations he insulted southern eurozone countries, but refused to appear before MEPs to explain his comments.

Responding to a request to appear before at a hearing of EU parliamentarians, Mr Dijsselbloem clarified remarks made in a German newspaper where he said some member states had spent their money on “booze and women” in the run up to the bloc’s debt crisis.

The Dutch minister heads up the eurozone’s 19-strong group of finance ministers which helps administer eurozone bailout funds in exchange for government reforms. His comments led to calls for his resignation from Portugal and Italy, with MEPs demanding he appear to explain the remarks.

But Mr Dijssebloem declined the invitation, instead issuing a letter to respond to parliamentarians’ complaints.

He wrote:

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. The crisis has impacted societies throughout the eurozone at great social expense and solidarity has been very much justified.

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.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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