Portugal's Costa criticises Netherlands over commitment to EU

FILE PHOTO: Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa speaks during a news conference at Ajuda palace in Lisbon

LISBON (Reuters) - Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Friday that the Netherlands' attempt to block economic support to fight the coronavirus raised questions about the future of the European Union.

"If under these conditions it's not possible for Europe to ensure a common response to this challenge, this is a sign of great concern for those who believe in Europe," Costa said in an interview with local news agency Lusa.

Costa questioned whether "there is anyone who wants to be left out" of the EU or the 19-member euro zone.

"Naturally, I'm referring to the Netherlands," he said.

"There is at least one country in the euro zone that resists understanding that sharing a common currency implies sharing a common effort," he added.

Costa's comments came a day after the EU's finance ministers agreed on half-a-trillion euros of support for their coronavirus-battered economies.

The agreement was reached after Germany and France helped end opposition from the Netherlands regarding the issue of attaching economic conditions to emergency credit for governments weathering the impacts of the pandemic.

Thursday's deal does not mention using joint "eurobond" debt to help finance a recovery - something hard-hit Italy, France and Spain pushed strongly for but which is a red line for Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Austria.

On Twitter, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the Netherlands is and "will remain opposed to eurobonds".


(Reporting by Catarina Demony)