Portugal has been given three years (till the end of 2008) to resolve its excess deficit situation. Portugal, like Italy only with less press attention, is in the midst of a serious economic slowdown. The decision to give Portugal slightly more time may be the result of a number of factors: it may be that they are perceived to be doing more to correct the situation than the Italian government is, the accumulated deficit in Portugal (68% GDP) is much less than the Italian one (106% GDP), and again, being a little less strict with Portugal counters the ‘you only chase small countries’ argument.
“We are proposing giving the Portuguese government three years to correct its deficit,” Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for EU monetary affairs commissioner Joaquin Almunia, told reporters on Wednesday.
As a member of the 12-nation eurozone, Portugal is bound to hold its annual public deficit to under three percent of output under terms of the 1997 Stability and Growth Pact.