The European Union is to negotiate the terms of Portugal's bail-out after receiving a formal request for aid late on Thursday.
EU finance ministers at a two-day summit in Budapest are likely to consider the scope of a potential deal.
There is, however, doubt about whether Portugal's caretaker government can agree to the austerity measures attached to the loans.
Here, readers in Portugal react to the country's request for financial assistance from the EU.
It was obvious that we had to ask for help, though we knew it would cost us a lot of effort. The Portuguese population understands very well that very difficult times lay ahead, and that we all must improve and work hard. But what really, really upsets us is the general quality of our politicians, more interested in serving themselves and their party, than to serve the country. That's what really brought us to this situation: A lack of vision, leadership and honesty. Rui Guimaraes, Porto
Perhaps now that there has to be a bail-out, whoever does the lending will hopefully look closely at how our politicians spend the money. It's all well and good for Socrates to cut salaries and ask citizens to make sacrifices. Yet, all the while, many politicians and former politicians enjoy two or more handsome pensions. It is also in their plans, given the chance, to go ahead with mega-expensive projects such as a brand new Lisbon airport and high-speed rail link. And not such a long time ago, Socrates made a lightning trip to Angola and extended them a 400m Euro line of credit. Not bad for one of the poorest countries in the EU. Rui Silva, Porto
I don't see how this bail-out will be good for us. It will only delay and increase our foreign debt and in five years we will have an even worse problem. I don't know what my future will be, stay and fight for the sake of my parents' survival or leave my country and watch it burn to the ground from a foreign country. Spain is not safe. They heavily depend on our imports and Portugal will have to drastically reduce its exports now. So, I really don't know what will happen in Spain, but I hope they can escape because if they don't, their fall may mean the start of the fall of Europe as a union, since it's simply not possible to bail-out a country like Spain. Carlos Ferreira, Aveiro
Apart from the expected gloomy mood of the population, nothing really out of the ordinary has happened here. You could say that had the bubble not burst in the north American market, the Portuguese crisis would probably never have happened. All of this has been a slow eroding process, our child benefit allowance had already been cut last year, together with our daughter's university grant. Nothing in the economic logic shows a clear necessity for financial bailout. Unemployment, although high, is balanced by social benefits.
Interest rates are low, around 4%, which means that most people can still pay their mortgages. Even after American rating agencies applied cuts to our banks, nearly all of them have good financial structure. Had the Portuguese treasury been able to finance itself with lower rates, financial assistance would not be needed. All of this means that Portuguese families are managing. Possibly, we are used to living with low wages, which means that any fallout will also be short-lived. Carlos Henriques, Mangualde
After years of borrowing money that they knew they would be unable to pay back, the banks have well and truly landed us in it. And who has to pay the price for their modern-day robbery? Us, the little person, the average-Joe earning a minimum wage of 475 euros a month. Justice? Democracy? They are just words of fiction in a country that is being used as Europe's whipping boy. Isabel Mendes, Porto
We are in this situation thanks to years of bad management, bad politicians, corruption and a severely flawed justice system. Having said that, I hope that now we spend less time looking back to find who is to blame for the current situation and more time finding real solutions to the structural problems that we have in Portugal. Some hard decisions will have to be made and I hope that, first, we have politicians with the courage to take these decisions and stick with them and, second, that every Portuguese understands that we either come together as a nation and understand that some very big sacrifices will be needed or we are in serious risk of bankruptcy and severe financial, political and social crisis. Joao Serra, Lisbon
I finally feel relieved that we have asked for external financial aid. The climate in Portugal was and still is devastating. We have lost all faith in our politicians, because they dragged us to the bottom for the last 25 years. Unfortunately there will never be anyone held responsible for this childish leadership. Berto Goncalves, Praia da Vitoria
Like the majority of the EU countries, we don't know if we have been told everything. We have no timeline for how long we are going to have to pay for this bail-out. According to the international press, we could have more EU countries - such as Spain - asking for bail-outs, and even if they don't, austerity measures are taking place and we will feel the impact either way. Antonio Gandarinho, Aveiro
This bail-out is the natural step from the dark hole we are in. The people here are losing faith in the country. We have a self-centred political class, with no concern about the people, only power and politics. I have a university degree and it's very very hard to find a job. I have to accept deplorable conditions in low-paying jobs, or turn to unemployment, because the top jobs are filled with "the boys" from the political class. That's the truth in Portugal today. Carlos Candeias, Setubal
The present government has done nothing but raise the public debt during its six years in office. Under Mr Socrates' reign, Portuguese public debt rose from around 80,000m to about 150,000 million euros. The crisis didn't happen last week. It has been decades in the making and this government did a good job of driving the country into the ground. Miguel Beca, Lisbon
The reason why the minority government, ruled by Mr Socrates was unable to have the new austerity package approved, was because it was first introduced to the European partners as a consumed fact before even the Portuguese people, the remaining parties or even the president knew about it. This may seem like an insignificant detail, but in the current political and economical climate was seen as an unnecessary provocation in an already very fragile state, which comes to prove that in a very twisted manner Germany did come to rule Europe after all. Other very important facts are also left out, like the failed prediction of the country's deficit for 2010 that was deliberately hidden by the Portuguese government or the fact that all the austerity measures have sought to obtain funds by increasing taxes and leaving the huge weight of public work untouched. Andre Gomes, Madeira,
Portugal's salaries are one of the lowest in Europe and many people find it hard to make ends meet. They have far less spending power than English or Irish people and will face genuine suffering when the cuts hit. Stephen Wilkinson, Lisbon