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Finland ready to back EU bailout for Portugal: minister

Finland is ready to back an EU rescue package for debt-pressured Portugal, finance minister Jyrki Katainen announced Wednesday, after securing agreement from the hesitant Social Democrats (SDP).

The SDP’s support makes Finland’s formal approval of the bailout a near certainty.

“Finland is ready to support the Portugal rescue package,” Katainen told reporters, the Taloussanomat daily said on its website.

The SDP, which became Finland’s second-largest party after last month’s election, agreed to support the bailout proposal after Katainen agreed that stipulations for greater investor responsibility should be attached to the package.

The Green party said it was satisfied with the agreement reached by the SDP and the National Coalition and that it would support the proposal. It holds one seat on the committee.

The agreement means the parties will now be able to formulate a proposal on the bailout which will have majority support in parliament.

A key parliamentary committee that sets Finland’s EU policy will decide on the proposal Friday.

The committee’s ruling will determine the position Katainen will take at a May 16 meeting of European Union finance ministers where the bailout is to be decided.

Finland is the only EU country that needs its parliament’s approval of Portugal’s rescue package, and one of only six eurozone countries to have a triple-A credit rating, making it a crucial backer of EU bailout packages.

Conservative leader Katainen, who is almost certain to become prime minister after his National Coalition Party became the country’s largest after April 17 elections, has pushed for Finland to back the rescue package.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi, whose party slipped to fourth place in the elections, said Tuesday that her party also supports the bailout.

The anti-EU True Finns, who took third place in the elections and are almost certain of a place in the next government coalition, have said they would reject the package.