Former Dutch politician Jeroen Dijsselbloem was at the helm of the Eurogroup for five years, dealing with huge economic fallout in the Eurozone – including Greece.
In an interview with Euronews Correspondent Damon Embling in Brussels, he said that it’s a good thing Athens has now exited its final bailout, but he looks back with frustration.
‘The programme was very hard, with many failures’
“Some people call the exit of Greece a great success and the programme a success and I don’t think you can say that. The programme was very long, very hard, with many failures,” he said.
When asked how often he was putting himself in the position of the Greeks, what is head what telling him over his heart, Dijsselbloem responded: “It actually made me very angry to think of the consequences for let’s say the normal Greek people, who were in a very hard situation.”
Drinks and women
One of the reasons the former Eurogroup head hit the headlines was an infamous quote he gave, saying: “you can’t spend all the money on drinks and women and then ask for help.” It was widely seen as a criticism of southern European countries.
When asked whether he regretted making those remarks, he replied: “Yeah, well, let’s ignore those comments.
“I think the key remark I made was that you cannot have a community and the Eurozone is a community, if you just want the solidarity, but not the responsibility.
“I would have re-phrased it, if I had had the opportunity again.”
Brexit: crossing ‘red lines’
On Brexit, Dijsselbloem said his message to negotiator would be to “minimise damage.”
“That’s the best we can do at the moment,” he said. “And I think we need to prepare for some really bad scenarios.”
On whether a deal is possible: “I’m an optimist, so I still think it’s possible. But there will have to be some red lines crossed. And the big question is political stability.”