Euro-zone finance ministers agreed on Saturday to grant Ireland and Portugal more time to pay back their bailout loans, to help them resume borrowing on financial markets.
“The Euro-zone ministers are determined to support Ireland’s and Portugal’s efforts to regain full market access and successfully exit their well-performing (bailout) programmes,” the 17 ministers said in a joint statement after talks in Brussels.
Ireland is supposed to exit its bailout programme later this year, while Portugal is expected to do so in early 2014. The two countries are considered model recipients among the five euro-zone nations that have been granted aid.
Saturday’s decision covers loans that Ireland and Portugal received from the European Financial Stability Facility, the first bailout fund set up by the euro-zone.
Finance ministers from all of the EU’s 27 member states will have to take a separate decision on aid that was disbursed through another rescue tool, the European Financial Stabilization Mechanism.
Ireland has in the past expressed hope that it will be granted a 15-year extension on its maturities, much like fellow bailout recipient Greece was offered in November as part of a package to alleviate its debt woes.
The details of Ireland and Portugal’s debt relief are being worked out with their international creditors, said Eurozone President Jeroen Dijsselbloem. He expects them to be presented to the euro-zone finance ministers “probably in April.”