Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has told the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso that if given a mandate by the people a Fine Gael-led coalition would seek to renegotiate the terms of the EU IMF bailout.

Following an hour long meeting with Mr Barroso in Brussels, Mr Kenny said the commission president was strongly supportive of Ireland's position.

Fine Gael's finance spokesman Michael Noonan, who also attended the meeting, said the party would seriously consider a German-style constitutional prohibition of excessive public debt, in addition to a statutory law, as part of any overall rethink of the rules governing the single currency.

A spokesman for Fine Gael said earlier that there were regular contacts between the party and the European Commission - Mr Barroso is from the same centre-right political family in Europe.

This is the first electoral campaign thrust by Fine Gael to show it is serious about trying to renegotiate terms of the bailout.

EU officials have acknowledged it is an opportune time for Ireland to get the question of interest rates looked at again.

There are intense and somewhat divisive discussions between member states and the European Commission about the overall European rescue fund, and whether its size and scope should be changed in order to forestall any potential attack by speculators on a major economy like Spain.

Within that process the question of interest rates, and the danger that they could pose too heavy a burden for bailout recipients, is now part of the discussions, although perhaps not at the top of the agenda.

Mr Barroso has not yet taken a public position on a reduction in interest rates, as he is focused more on the need for a definitive and quick solution to the euro zone debt crisis.

However, there is formidable opposition to any loosening of the interest rate policy, which was agreed unanimously last May and was designed to make the bailout an absolute last resort.

EU officials have pointed out that the credit for getting a reduction onto the agenda lies with Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, who first raised it at the meeting of euro zone finance ministers on 17 January.

Asked if he thought Fine Gael's visit to Brussels was premature, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said he was not sure what they were discussing.

He said he believed that renegotiation of the EU/IMF deal had to be on the basis of a mandate given by the people.

He said the renegotiation of the deal can only take place after the election and after a mandate has been given to the new government to re-negotiate the deal.