(Reuters) - European policymakers should be ready to provide more help to Portugal some time in the future, European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said in a Finnish television interview shown on Wednesday.
"From the European Union side, it would be wise to be prepared that some kind of bridge needs to be built when Portugal returns to the markets," Rehn told television channel MTV3.
It was not clear what help he believed was needed, and Rehn added that Portugal's situation was different to that of Greece.
Portugal received a bailout of 78 billion euros ($104 billion) from the EU and the International Monetary Fund last year after it was cut off from markets last year because of investor concerns about its ability to service its large debt because of the low competitiveness of its slow growing economy.
Lisbon is to tap markets again in the second half of 2013.
Asked what Rehn meant by a "bridge" for Portugal, his spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said:
"Vice President Rehn's remark... was just an expression of our commitment to Portugal," he told a news briefing.
"Portugal is on track. Portugal has and will continue to have the support of the European Commission and EU institutions as it is working very hard to build confidence on the markets."
Euro zone officials have been at pains to stress publicly that Portugal is on course to return to borrowing privately without further EU support. But many private sector analysts are sceptical of its ability to avoid a similar course to Greece, which has been bailed out twice and had to restructure its private sector debt.
Asked if Rehn was talking about the possibility of the euro zone's bailout fund providing partial insurance for bonds issued by Portugal for some time after Lisbon returns to market, Altafaj said:
"At this time it is speculative, we will have to see what the situation looks like in the market in terms of interest rates at the time."
"What is important today is to reinforce confidence among market participants. The first signs are there, interest rates have been decreasing slightly and the country is doing its utmost to show all market participants that it is reforming deeply its economy," Altafaj said.
Yields of Portuguese benchmark 10-year bonds fell from a peak of 17.39 percent in the end of January to 11.33 at the end of March but have since rebounded to 12.11 percent today.
Peter Weiss, a European Commission official who is part of the team of international lenders overseeing Lisbon's progress in reforms necessary to receive tranches of the bailout, said on Tuesday no second bailout was envisaged at this time.
"Our assumption is that the (current) programme is enough. Whether Portugal can convince markets, is another question of course," the official said.
"For the time being our assumption is that the programme is on track and should lead to Portugal regaining markets access in 2013," Weiss said. ($1 = 0.7497 euros)