EU’s Rehn warns Finland over rejecting Portugal aid

By Thomas Leigh

GODOLLO, Hungary (Reuters) – The European Union’s top economic official urged Finland on Saturday to back Portugal’s bailout, warning that a rejection could derail economic recovery and financial stability in the euro zone. Portugal caved into pressure this week to seek a euro zone-IMF financial rescue package, which Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn estimated on Friday would total 80 billion euros.

However, a Finnish populist party poised for strong gains in elections this month has said it would oppose the international package, which is likely to come up for a vote after Finland’s new parliament is elected on April 17.

Unlike most other euro zone countries, Finland has the right to put requests to use the European Financial Stability Fund to a majority parliamentary vote.

“I trust that Finland will show its responsibility and support this conditional financial assistance programme for Portugal,” Rehn told journalists after a meeting of EU finance ministers in Hungary.

Rehn, himself a Finn, said that Finland’s backing was necessary “for the sake of safeguarding financial stability in Europe and Finland, and for the sake of protecting the economic recovery, growth and employment.”

The leader of the eurosceptic True Finns party, Timo Soini, said a day after Lisbon announced it would seek international aid that his party would vote against funding.

Two other Finnish parties currently in opposition have also opposed euro zone bailouts in the past.

EU’s Rehn warns Finland over rejecting Portugal aid