Wednesday

18th Jan 2017

Germany promises Portugal 'programme adjustment' after Greece

  • Portuguese minister Gaspar (l) got a nod from Germany (Photo: Council of European Union)

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble on Thursday was caught on tape promising Portugal an adjustment to its programme after a deal with Greece is sealed, the first time an EU minister has publicly spoken of such plans.

The footage was caught by Portugal's TVi24 cameraman during the 'roundtable' shots at the beginning of a eurozone ministers' meeting on Thursday (9 February).

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Schauble, unaware of the rolling camera, is seen telling his Portuguese counterpart Vitor Gaspar that after the Greek deal is done, Berlin will approve a loosening of the conditions attached to Portugal's €78 billion bail-out programme.

"If at the end we need to make an adjustment to the programme, having taken large decisions about Greece ... This is essential. But then, if necessary, an adjustment of the Portuguese programme, will be prepared," he says.

The Portuguese minister is grateful saying: "Thank you very much."

"No problem," Schauble replies. "It is that members of the German parliament and public opinion in Germany does not believe that our decisions are serious, because they don't believe in our decisions about Greece."

Gaspar notes the "substantial progress" his country has made, eliciting agreement from Schauble: "Yes, you did progress."

Portugal - the third euro-country to receive a bail-out after Greece and Ireland, is struggling with high borrowing costs and recession after it pushed through an aggressive programme of spending cuts and selling of state assets, such as the country's main energy company REN to state companies from China and Oman.

Hedge funds have already started speculating on Portugal being the next in line for a debt restructuring programme similar to the one currently negotiated with Greece, but EU officials have repeatedly stressed that Athens' situation is "unique."

Schauble on candid camera.

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