EU finance ministers instructed Ireland and Portugal’s international creditors on Tuesday to draw up options granting them more time to pay back their bailout loans, according to a joint statement.
“We discussed whether EU finance ministers would be ready in principle to consider an adjustment of the maturities on the (international) loans to Ireland and Portugal in order to smooth the debt redemption profiles of both countries,” the ministers wrote.
They asked the troika of international lenders — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — to work out the best options for the two countries with regards to their bailouts.
On Monday, eurozone finance ministers had praised Dublin and Lisbon for their “strong commitment to their respective adjustment programmes, which have already been successful in addressing previously accumulated imbalances,” the 27 EU ministers wrote.
“Both programmes are on track and performing well despite challenging macro-economic circumstances,” they added.
Euro group president Jeroen Dijsselbloem expressed hope on Monday that the troika would complete their technical work “as swiftly as possible,” adding that a decision could come in April.
Meanwhile, EU Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn warned that the “still fragile financial market situation makes it essential that both countries remain committed to rigorous programme implementation.” Ireland, for its part, hopes to be granted 15 years to repay its international loans.