EU finance ministers meet in Athens

Updated: 2014-04-01 16:52


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EU finance ministers meet in Athens

Portugal's Finance Minister Maria Albuquerque (R) speaks with her Irish counterpart Brian Hayes during a European Union Finance Ministers informal meeting in Athens April 1, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

Portugal's rescue loan program, which began in 2011, is due to end in mid-May, and ministers are to discuss the details of its bailout exit. The country's economy has improved significantly recently, with Portugal posting an improved budget deficit and lower unemployment.

"I think it's important to take note of the reduction in unemployment in Portugal," EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said as he arrived. "It's not enough but it shows things are going in the right direction."

However, no concrete decision is expected to be taken during the Athens meeting, with Rehn saying that discussions will be conducted "in coming weeks."

Greece was the first eurozone country to receive a bailout, and has depended on those rescue loans since May 2010. It hopes for a statement of support from other eurozone countries.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the eurogroup meetings, said Tuesday's talks on Greece would focus on "the future, on the finalization of the Greek program on the basis of the troika reports."

"So we'll hear from the troika first, then we'll decide on the further disbursements - what the size is, what the timing is, if further steps have to be taken, etc."

"There is urgency and there will be a decision today," he told reporters before entering the meeting room. "But you asked me what the decision is and I will tell you afterwards."