Today Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra admits he didn’t show “sufficient empathy” towards Southern Europe at last week’s EU meeting. At the meeting, ministers clashed over Corona bonds – a proposed joint debt instrument that all EU members would guarantee as a solution to the bloc’s economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Although, nine member countries, including France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, backed the idea, Germany and the Netherlands rejected it. Since the meeting, Hoekstra has received much backlash over his lack of compassion, particularly towards countries like Italy and Spain, which are suffering the most from the coronavirus crisis. Not only has he received much criticism from Southern European country leaders, but also by leaders and economists in his own country.
Today, in an interview with Dutch news channel RTL Z, Hoekstra admitted he should have been more empathetic during the meeting. “We should have made it clear – including myself – that we want to help. But we weren’t empathetic enough. We expressed it in a way that created resistance,” he said.
Hoekstra claimed that his country is prepared to offer financial help for struggling member countries. However, he once again rejected the idea of any shared debt instrument, like the Corona bonds. “The Corona bonds or Euro bonds – or whatever they are called – are simply not prudent. It’s a solution for a problem that just doesn’t exist right now,” he reiterated.