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Portuguese president calls for EU growth strategy

Portugal’s president called Wednesday for the European Union to put in place a growth strategy, days before the country was set to become the first to ratify the bloc’s fiscal pact.

“It is fundamental that at the European level a strategy is put into place for economic growth and job creation in order to cope with the current economic stagnation,” Anibal Cavaco Silva said at a news conference with his Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer.

Such a strategy would allow Portugal to “reduce the recessionary impact of the measures put in place” to improve its finances under the terms of a 78-billion-euro ($102 billion) bailout programme it agreed with the EU and International Monetary Fund last May.

Portugal, the third eurozone country to receive an international bailout following Greece and Ireland, is set to become on Friday the first to ratify a new pact to tighten fiscal discipline.

The 17 eurozone nations plus eight other EU nations signed last month an agreement that pushes them to adopt balanced budgets and increases penalties for those that run up excessive public deficits and debt.

The pact has come under criticism from various quarters for failing to address the issue of how to achieve the growth needed for European countries to repay their debt over the long term.