Spanish, Portuguese leaders meet to discuss crisis, ways to stimulate ailing economies

MADRID - Spain and Portugal's premiers are meeting to discuss the economic turmoil plaguing their countries and the measures the European Union should take to ease the crisis.

Monday's bilateral government summit in Madrid comes ahead of a gathering of European finance ministers in Brussels in which Spain's and Portugal's problems will be high on the agenda.

Spanish leader Mariano Rajoy and Portugal's Pedro Passos Coelho will likely call on the EU to move swiftly to create a regional banking union and to slow down budget cuts to help the economy grow.

Spain has been in recession for most of the past four years and has a record 27.2 per cent unemployment rate. Portugal, with a 17.7 per cent jobless rate, is one of four eurozone countries to have received a sovereign bailout.