Portugal has started bailout talks with officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
They will check out Lisbon’s public accounts to decide what further austerity measures are needed to cut the budget deficit.
In return the debt-burdened country will get a three-year loan of as much as 80 billion euros.
Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos said: “We expect to complete the programme until mid-May, we expect that at the May 16 Eurogroup meeting we can approve the programme and also the financial assistance that we have requested.”
In June, Lisbon will need some of that money to repay 4.9 billion euros in maturing government bonds.
Portugal has resisted a bailout. Its people have bad memories of the harsh austerity measures that came with IMF loans in the early 1980s.
Analysts say even with the bailout Portugal’s economic future looks grim with current and future austerity measures depressing consumer demand and causing a second economic contraction in just two years in Portugal.