No prediction on bank debt deal
The president of the European Commission has refused to speculate on whether Ireland will secure a deal on its crippling bank debt by the summer.
Jose Manuel Barroso said the commission was working hard to ensure the link between sovereign and private debt is broken, but he could not predict when technical discussions would be finalised.
He urged member states to stick to the spirit of an agreement reached during a crucial summit last June - that sustainability of the Irish bailout programme would be improved.
"I was always making the case for the need for solidarity with Ireland and the need for fairness within Europe," Mr Barroso said.
"This is the commission's position in favour of fairness. You have the full support and the good will of the commission as you face the challenges ahead."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said a bank deal was necessary for Ireland to successfully emerge from its bailout programme.
As the second high-level meeting of Ireland's EU presidency got under way, Mr Barroso said easing the country's bank debt burden could only be achieved after the establishment of a single supervisory mechanism.
He said technical discussions on such a banking union were still continuing. "Once this agreement is made we can proceed," he said.
Ireland had hoped to use its six-month term as EU president to secure a deal on its 64 billion euro debt - a burden that Irish taxpayers have been forced to shoulder.
Despite being unable to confirm a time frame for the eagerly-awaited deal, Mr Barroso insisted the commission wanted to establish a direct recapitalisation instrument that breaks the link between sovereign and bank debt as soon as possible.