BERLIN, June 8 Portugal and Greece are
interested in the same kind of support for lending to small
business that Germany agreed with Spain this week, a spokeswoman
for the German finance ministry said on Saturday, but they will
need a state financing body to qualify.
Anxious to support growth and combat unemployment elsewhere
in the euro zone, Berlin has laid out a scheme to grant Spanish
small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) aid of roughly 1 billion
euros ($1.32 billion).
A German magazine reported on Saturday that the government
wants to extend the scheme to make it easier for companies to
get credit in other countries across the currency area's
crisis-stricken southern half.
A spokeswoman for the German finance ministry said the
measure was part of an overall strategy to promote growth and
employment, especially for young people, in the countries which
have been bailed out in Europe's debt crisis.
"We must succeed in solving the acute financing problems of
companies that have a robust business model and good growth
prospects," a spokeswoman for the German finance ministry said
in a statement, asked to confirm the magazine report.
"Portugal and Greece are interested in similar measures (to
Spain)," she said.
The scheme for Spain laid out this week will see German
state development bank KfW provide loans to state
credit agency Instituto de Credito Oficial (ICO), which will
pass the money on to small companies.
The spokeswoman said both Portugal and Greece would need a
similar agency to receive such loans.
"I have already told my Portuguese colleague: 'You can have
all of that too,'" the report in weekly WirtschaftsWoche quoted
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble as saying.
Finance and labour ministers from France, Spain, Germany and
Italy are due to meet in Rome on Friday to discuss measures to
combat youth unemployment, which is at record levels across
Germany, blamed by citizens in southern Europe for
insisting on spending cuts and structural reforms in exchange
for bailouts, is keen to shore up its image as the risk of
social and political unrest grows.