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Finland approves Portuguese bailout: lawmakers

Published on 13/05/2011

Finland officially approved a financial rescue package to Portugal on Friday, lawmakers said, removing a main obstacle to the European Union's approval of the bailout.

“We support the government’s line … including participation in a support package for Portugal and participation in the temporary and permanent stability mechanisms,” said Erkki Tuomioja, the head of the parliamentary committee that sets Finland’s EU policy.

The ruling gives outgoing Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen, who pushed for approval, a mandate to back the rescue package at the May 16 meeting of eurozone finance ministers where the bailout is to be decided.

The committee comprised of 25 parliamentarians from all eight political parties had been widely exptected to approve the bailout after conservative leader Katainen secured the support of the Centre Party, the Social Democrats, and the Greens ahead of the committee meeting.

The nationalist, anti-EU True Finns party, which surged to become Finland’s third-largest party after the April 17 election, were vehemently against the bailout but were unable to bloc its approval by the committee.

Katainen is almost certain to become prime minister after his National Coalition Party came in first place with 44 seats in the 200-seat parliament.

Finance ministers of the 17-nation eurozone will meet on Monday, followed by a meeting with their colleagues from the 10 other EU states on Tuesday, to decide on backing a 78-billion-euro ($110 billion) EU-IMF rescue programme for Portugal.

Finland is the only EU country that needs its parliament’s approval of Portugal’s rescue package.