Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said the critical issue for Ireland as it returns to self-financing is that it is able access funding at a reasonable price.

Ms Burton said Ireland is well-placed to exit the EU/ECB/IMF programme next year.

She said this is the strong case that Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore have been making in their visits to various European leaders this week.

The minister said the European Union is about a common market and the common market element applies to funding issues.

She said the eurozone needs to be able to show that countries can emerge from difficulties.

Ms Burton said Ireland is well-placed to emerge from its difficulties on the back of the tremendous sacrifices made by Irish people.

She acknowledged that there may be something of a premium for risk in relation to Ireland.

She said the concept of Europe as a free market is at the heart of the European Union and she asked what is more important than countries in Europe having access to sovereign funding at reasonable prices.

She said it is critical to getting the whole of the eurozone and the European Union back on the economic track of recovery.

"I think if Ireland can do that it will be a tremendous gain, not just for Ireland but for other European countries as well," Minister Burton said.

"The eurozone in recovery, in turn, will help a world recovery so that we can end the blight of joblessness that is spreading not just to the countries that are having difficulties but is spreading right throughout the eurozone."