RTE News has learned that technical discussions have been under way between the Government and officials at the European Financial Stability Facility on a possible way of reducing the cost of Ireland's bank debt burden.

It is understood officials are considering the creation of an EFSF bond which could potentially be used as collateral to allow IBRC access the ECB's normal bank financing operations.

Such a bond could potentially help wean the IBRC off the so called Emergency Liquidity Assistance which the bank currently sources from the Irish Central Bank.

Tonight, Germany's member on the ECB executive board drew attention on two occasions to the importance of getting the IBRC off its dependence on ELAs which it has accessed through the creation of the Promissory Notes by the State.

Speaking at the informal meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Copenhagen Jorg Asmussen said it was "very important" that the Irish State honours the €3.1bn repayment of the Anglo promissory note because this would reduce the ELA which IBRC receives from the Irish Central Bank.

He added: "The objective should be to reduce, over time, the reliance of Irish banks on central bank funding, and in particular the Emergency Liquidity Assistance."

Mr Asmussen also said the ECB expected that the Promissory Notes would be "served" according to the schedule to which the Government has committed itself.

One plan being considered by officials is that the EFSF could provide support by way of a bond to the Irish Government. The bond could in turn provide the collateral needed for the IBRC to access the ECB's normal low cost, ongoing financing to which it is currently excluded.

This would allow the IBRC to avoid having a need for ELA which officials regard as more expensive, and about which the ECB has repeatedly expressed reservations.

Earlier, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said: "The priority for us is that the ECB provide us with continuing low cost funding, and that's going to be the key piece of the negotiation...

"The use of the EFSF, say for the issuance of a bond: obviously the ECB would favour that because it would improve their collateral significantly. But that in itself would be of little use to Ireland unless we got the commitment of ongoing medium-term, low-cost funding from the ECB," he said.

Officials acknowledge that the use of the EFSF is one of the options the Government is considering, but would not confirm the existence of technical talks with officials from the Luxembourg-based EFSF.

One benefit of an EFSF bond is that it could be given a much longer maturity date than the repayment schedule which currently applies to the promissory notes. It could also have a lower interest rate.

The problem, however, is that the EFSF is underwritten by other eurozone countries, including six triple A rated countries, whose approval would be needed if the EFSF were to be used for such an operation.

This could mean that negotiations could take a considerable amount of time.

It is understood that officials are examining a similar plan for Greek banks, following the restructuring last month of Greek government debt.

Officials have been exploring a way to allow Greek banks, which have seen a considerable write down on their holdings of Greek government bonds, to be recapitalised by way of an EFSF bond which would give them the collateral needed to access normal ECB funding, it is understood.

Meanwhile, eurozone countries agreed to boost the firewall against the debt crisis to over €800bn.

Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said the figure would be made up of €500bn from the permanent ESM bailout fund that comes into effect in July, €200bn in loans already pledged, and another €100bn in bilateral loans and EU funds.

Throughout the eurozone debt crisis, authorities have struggled to agree an overall rescue fund regarded as big enough should Spain or Italy get into trouble.

The International Monetary Fund has said it will wait to see how much Europe is prepared to pledge before asking its members to increase their contributions to its overall fund.

Ministers will also discuss the forthcoming Spanish budget, with Madrid under pressure to get its budget deficit down to 3% of GDP by next year, despite missing this year's target.