Portugal set to make 'formal' request for EU aid

7th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Portugal's government will "formally" request financial assistance from the European Union later on Thursday, the government spokesman announced following a cabinet meeting.

"The government will formally send a written request today to the European Commission," the spokesman, Pedro Silva Pereira, said.

"This request is aimed at launching a dialogue to evaluate the specific terms of this financial assistance."

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates said late Wednesday the government had finally decided to seek EU help to resolve its debt woes, paving the way for a third bailout of a eurozone country after Ireland and Greece last year.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso then confirmed that he had been informed by Socrates "of his intention to request the activation of financial support mechanisms" of the EU.

Barroso said the request would "be examined as soon as possible."

The European Commission said it stands ready to send experts to Lisbon to negotiate the terms.

"We expect the formal request soon. I do not know exactly how soon, this is a question for the Portuguese authorities," Amadeu Altafaj, the commission spokesman for economic affairs, said Thursday.

He refused to estimate how much Portugal will need in aid, saying the commission must first receive a request and assess the situation on the ground in Lisbon.

"The commission stands ready to send a mission to Lisbon along with European Central Bank staff as soon as we are asked to do so," Altafaj said.

© 2011 AFP

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