Friday, March 25, 2011

Portuguese Crisis Threatens to Throw EU Summit Off Course

by Laurence Norman

Wall Street Journal
March 24, 2011

A seemingly done deal on a comprehensive package of European reforms to be agreed this week remains under some threat amid a political crisis in Portugal and concerns among other member countries about boosting their commitments to the Euro-zone’s bailout funds.

European government heads are gathering in Brussels Thursday and Friday to sign off on the reforms, which have been painstakingly negotiated over a string of summits in Brussels in recent weeks.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Tuesday that with so much advanced work completed, he expects governments to “to finalise it rapidly on Thursday afternoon.”

But circumstances are not conspiring to ensure plain sailing. Here are the issues that will need dealing with at the council.

Portugal’s political crisis, heightened now that Prime Minister Jose Socrates has tendered his resignation, makes a bailout request from Lisbon more likely.

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