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Portugal’s Costa questions Dutch commitment to EU – POLITICO


Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa | Mário Cruz/EFE via EPA

‘We need to know whether we can go on with 27 in the European Union … or if there is anyone who wants to be left out.’

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Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa on Friday called into question the Netherlands’ commitment to the European Union because of its tough line on economic support for countries badly hit by the coronavirus.

“We need to know whether we can go on with 27 in the European Union, 19 [in the eurozone], or if there is anyone who wants to be left out. Naturally, I am referring to the Netherlands,” Costa said in an interview with the Lusa news agency to be released in full on Saturday.

Costa defended the role of the European Commission during the crisis, saying it has “acted to the maximum extent of its capabilities.” The responsibility, he said, “rests with the Council … and there is no transfer of responsibilities to Brussels.”

Costa’s comments came a day after the EU’s finance ministers agreed a €540 billion package of measures to fight the impact of coronavirus impact on the bloc’s economies.

Last month, Costa lashed out at Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra after the latter reportedly called for Brussels to investigate why some countries did not have enough financial room for maneuver to weather the economic impact of the crisis, which has claimed thousands of European lives and put the Continent on lockdown.

“That statement is repugnant in the framework of the European Union. And that’s exactly the right expression for it —repugnant,” a visibly irritated Costa declared at the time. “No one has any more time to hear Dutch finance ministers as we heard in 2008, 2009, 2010 and so forth.”

Portugal now has 15,472 confirmed coronavirus cases. So far, there have been 435 deaths in the country.





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