The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has said he is confident Ireland will make a full return to the markets before the end of the year.

In an interview with RTÉ News, Mr Barroso signalled his support for a further easing of the terms of Ireland's bailout programme, saying Ireland's efforts should be "rewarded".

He said the Commission was backing proposals to alter the maturities and interest rates on loans that the EU has made to Ireland as part of the €67bn bailout programme funded by the EU, ECB and IMF.

Mr Barroso said: "Our assessment is very positive regarding Ireland." 

He added: "I keep my confidence that Ireland will be able to successfully come back to the markets as predicted and in fact we have been supporting all measures to make this a reality and in fact to ease the conditions in terms of maturities, in terms of interest rates.

"We have been discussing that with the member states and the Commission has been supporting those measures for Ireland. And we think that those efforts should be rewarded for Ireland."

Earlier, Mr Barroso said the Irish economy is "turning the corner".

Addressing an IBEC conference in Dublin, Mr Barroso said that keeping Europe on the road to sustainable recovery was a formidable challenge.

He said it faced systematic problems including unacceptably high rates of unemployment.

However, he told the conference that Ireland had shown there was "light at the end of the tunnel" and was an example that recovery programmes can work.

He said new employment figures suggest clearly that recovery may be happening.

Kenny warns more work to be done

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told delegates that the experience of Ireland and the lessons learned were relevant to the wider European experience.

However, he also warned there is more work to be done.

He said the Government is implementing a "very challenging budgetary adjustment of about 20% of GDP over the period from 2008 to 2015" and remains committed to bringing down the deficit level to below 3% by 2015.

Praise for Irish deals

Mr Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore held two hours of talks in Dublin today with Mr Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

The talks came one third of the way through Ireland's European Presidency.

The two presidents praised two agreements brokered by Ireland - the new Youth Guarantee and the cap on bankers' bonuses.

Under the Youth Guarantee scheme, people under 25 years of age would be offered a job, training, an apprenticeship or further education within four months of being made unemployed.

The EU's employment council passed the measure in Brussels today.

However, it is a recommendation to member states, not legislation.

The cap on bankers' bonuses has been criticised by London Mayor Boris Johnston, but Mr Kenny said it was an important step towards banking union.

However, Mr Schulz warned that, as of now, the overwhelming majority of MEPs would reject the multi-annual budget agreed by the member states for the next seven years.

Mr Gilmore will be leading negotiations on this issue with the parliament.

He said it would be difficult and complicated, but he was hopeful agreement could be reached.