EU finance ministers meeting in Hungary are turning up the pressure on Portugal to commit to further cost-cutting measures in exchange for a financial rescue package of around 80-billion euros.
Earlier in the week the European Central Bank encouraged Portugal to become the third eurozone country to ask for help.
The finance minister from Spain, a fourth potential problem economy, was upbeat about her country’s outlook. Elena Salgado said: ‘I do not see any risk of contagion. I think we are totally out of this.’
There were rumblings though about Portugal’s delayed request for aid could prove an obstacle to EU unanimity.
Sweden’s finance minister Anders Borg said: ‘All member countries will commit substantial amounts of money, even if they are in or out of the Euro system, and that means that we have a demand for audit processes. Therefore I think it’s quite problematic that they waited so long, and came with such a short time notice.’
But while the european politicians were calling for belt tightening, thousands of european trade unionists were protesting a short distance from the talks in Budapest, saying austerity measures will hit the poor and jobless rather than the rich and comfortable.