Ireland to seek 10 billion euro credit backstop, minister says

Ireland's Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos (R) attend an euro zone finance ministers meeting in Brussels July 8, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will seek a 10 billion euro ($13.1 billion) credit line when its EU-IMF bailout expires later this year, which it will draw on only if needed, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said.

The Irish government’s borrowing costs have fallen steadily since they peaked in 2011, paving the way for the country to exit its 85 billion euro bailout at the end of the year.

That would make it the first euro zone state to exit an aid program, providing a much-needed success story for the European Union.

Noonan was hopeful a deal could be struck with no new conditions, the Irish Independent newspaper reported on Friday.

“What it would mean is a credit line that we could draw on if we needed to draw on it,” Noonan said, in comments confirmed by the ministry.

“If we had a credit line equivalent to a full year’s deficit, in other words about 10 billion euros, then if something happens ... then we have a year’s funding of the deficit to allow the thing to work through,” he said.

Reuters reported last month that Ireland was seeking a precautionary credit to smooth its bailout exit, with any conditions focused solely on its still-troubled banks.

The chair of the group of euro zone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said this week that Ireland would get euro zone support in exiting its bailout but gave no details.

Reporting by Sam Cage; Editing by John Stonestreet