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Portugal confident of Finnish bailout support: minister

Published on 21/04/2011

Portugal said Thursday it was confident the EU and IMF would approve its debt bailout plan by mid-May despite the success of an eurosceptic party in elections in bloc member state Finland.

“For Portugal, the decision of Ecofin (the finance ministers of the 27 European Union countries) regarding the adoption of a programme of external aid by May 16 remains valid,” a spokesman minister for the outgoing government, Pedro Silva Pereira, told a press conference.

“We hope that the conditions are met so that it is possible. We are confident that will be the case with the participation of all the member countries of the European Union, particularly those in the eurozone,” he said.

The nationalistic True Finns became the third biggest party in Sunday’s elections in Finland, likely pushing parliament to the right and threatening to hold up the country’s participation in the eurozone’s third bailout.

Brussels is now waiting to see whether Finland will back or veto EU help for debt-ridden EU states.

The True Finns, whih had campaigned on utter rejection of the EU’s bailout packages, is now expected to be invited to join the next coalition government, headed by election winner the conservative and pro-EU National Coalition Party.

But it remains unclear if the populist party will modify its bailout position in exchange for a seat at the table.

A team of European Union and International Monetary Fund officials started talks with Portugal Monday about the scale and modalities of a bailout, estimated to amount to about 80 billion euros ($114 billion).

The debt rescue talks are scheduled to end by mid-May, before an early general election here on June 5 prompted by the right-wing opposition’s refusal to approve cutbacks proposed by the outgoing Socialist government.

The international mission is expected to unveil an “adjustment programme” by the end of next week.

“We are waiting for the outlines of what could become this foreign aid programme to become clearer,” Silva Pereira said.

Lisbon has to have the package in place by June 15 when it must repay nearly 5.0 billion euros in maturing debt.