Portugal’s Cabral Says Dijsselbloem Resignation Is Best for EU

  • Dutch minister says he won’t step down from Eurogroup post
  • EU should focus on good results in Brexit talks, Cabral says

Portuguese Minister Says Brexit Can't Be Only EU Agenda

Portugal’s Economy Minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, whose Dutch party lost elections this month, should quit as chairman of the European finance ministers’ group after his comments about the duties of nations getting aid were deemed offensive.

"It would be the best thing for Europe and the best thing he could do," Cabral said in a Bloomberg Television interview from the Boao Forum for Asia, an annual conference on the southern Chinese island of Hainan. "He just lost an election and I think he should not be trying to blame others for his own failures."

Dijsselbloem is under pressure to resign as leader of the euro area’s finance ministers after a German newspaper cited him saying, “I can’t spend all my money on women and drink and then at the end ask for your help.” That remark inflamed tensions between stronger economies in the north and weaker nations including Greece, Ireland and Portugal. The Eurogroup chief has said he regrets causing offense, but doesn’t intend to resign.

"I don’t think we can let the Eurogroup be divided in that way, and for that reason that person should be out," Cabral said. "One of the worst things that some European responsibles have done in the past is not being leaders and trying to surpass their own difficulties at home by accusing other countries. This is a way of destroying Europe."

On the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union, Cabral said the bloc must focus on getting good results from negotiations in the next two to five years and then moving on to other issues. He said broader trade pacts should be the goal rather than making Brexit the only thing on the agenda for Europe and the U.K.

The EU should focus on trade talks that give serious results and make a priority "of opening to the world, of negotiating with Asia, of being part of this initiative of One Belt-One Road with China and establishing links with Asia," he said in the interview.

— With assistance by Jeff Kearns, Stephen Engle, and Karolina Miziolek

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.