| 8.3°C Dublin


IRELAND is being praised as the poster boy of Europe as the country regains competitiveness.

Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the monthly meetings of the 17 euro finance ministers, said that the EU were "very pleased" with the progress made since the country appealed for a €67.5bn loan.

MEPs were told that although there was ongoing weakness in Greece, Ireland's competitiveness has improved considerably, while Portugal was said to be "progressing well".

"The eurozone suffers from the fact that we seem always to be going on about the bad news and talking all the time about that," said Mr Juncker.

"Ireland, as far as competitiveness is concerned, lost out very considerably, but has now caught up half of the ground that it lost," he said.

EU economics chief Olli Rehn called for the immediate adoption of the July package for a second Greek bailout.

The deal also includes an expanded role for the EU's financial stability facility to allow it to step into secondary markets to buy ailing countries' debt.

The bond purchase programme had lain dormant since March -- after €74bn spent on Greek, Irish and Portuguese bonds -- but the bank has spent an extra €40bn since it was revived this month.

However, ECB head Jean-Claude Trichet is keen to get the bonds off the bank's books.