Sunday 17 December 2017

Ministers want bailout extension

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there was 'good news' after talks in Brussels
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there was 'good news' after talks in Brussels

European finance ministers are to urge officials in charge of Ireland's bailout programme to consider a deal to extend repayments.

After talks in Brussels, they agreed to ask the Troika to consider the best options for adjusting the maturities of the country's multibillion-euro loans. In a statement the ministers said spreading out the repayments was needed "to smooth the debt redemption profiles".

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the deal would help reduce Ireland's borrowing requirement and therefore ease its way back into the international money markets.

He said: "It's good news in the sense of extending the maturity of the loans involved and therefore easing further our way back into the markets, and reducing our borrowing requirement in the medium future."

The finance chiefs reached the conclusion at a meeting in Brussels, chaired by Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

The Ecofin group of European finance ministers said they had agreed in principle to arranging a new debt repayment schedule on some of the bailout loans given to Ireland and Portugal. The countries had asked for an extension to their repayment periods in January.

The bailouts granted to both countries were made up of a combination of EFSM (European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism) loans and money from the eurozone's EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) temporary bailout fund.

The finance ministers in Brussels said both programmes are on track and performing well despite "challenging macro-economic circumstances".

They agreed to ask the Troika - the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank - to consider how the terms of the loans can be adjusted. A decision is expected during the next big meeting of finance heads next month in Dublin.

Mr Noonan warned there would be much work ahead before the deal could take effect. He said there was a willingness across all member states to help Ireland and Portugal, but there were "varying levels of difficulties" in putting it in place.

Press Association

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