Backslapping in Portugal
Haddock, Fiona, Global Finance
As the bickering continues in London over whether or not to join the single currency, Lisbon is gloating over its membership. Portugal defied the odds by qualifying for monetary union, and now the country is celebrating big time.
Says Joaquim Pina Moura, Portugal's minister for the economy: "You must understand the importance for Portugal of having achieved this goal. If you asked almost any analyst a few years ago which countries would qualify for European Monetary Union, very few would have included Portugal."
The country has earned the right to engage in a bit of backslapping and flag-waving. Local interest rates are way down, as is government debt and deficit. The inflation rate is a relatively low 2.8%. And Portugal remains one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union, with the annual production of goods and services increasing 4% last year and 3% this year. Says Moura: "To qualify [for EMU membership] we had to achieve these levels. …