German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble has caused ructions today after declaring Portugal “could require a new bailout”.
He quickly qualified his words, saying Portugal would need a new international loan if it did not comply with European rules.
“The Portuguese don’t want it and won’t need if if they comply”, he told a press conference in Berlin.
The subject came up after he was asked about whether he was worried about the performance of Deutsche Bank.
His reply was that he was more worried about Portugal.
As Público explains, Schauble’s comments were seized on by the international press to the point that both Finance Minister Mário Centeno and PS president Carlos César were firing back within minutes of being made aware of them.
César retorted that this was yet another example of the “persistent arrogance” that upsets “increasingly more Europeans” – while Centeno stressed the government is committed to complying with its budgetary plans and has no intention whatsoever of requesting a new bailout.
Referring to the delicate moment in which Europe finds itself, Centeno said Portugal’s government “will continue to work with the serenity and responsibility that the European project demands”.
But Schauble’s words were particularly ill-timed as both Spain and Portugal are waiting to hear whether the European Council will be imposing economic sanctions for the countries’ failure to meet targets in the 2015 Excessive Deficit programme.
Prime minister António Costa has already told TSF radio that any decision by Brussels to impose sanctions in the post-Brexit furore would send “the worst kind of signal” and “show that the European Commission does not understand what is happening today in Europe”.