The EU Commissioner on Economic and Monetary Affairs has said the €1bn in savings from the promissory note deal should not be regarded as a "windfall gain" for the Irish economy.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Olli Rehn said the money should not be used to "soften" next year's Budget.

Mr Rehn said it was important that Ireland stick to the EU/IMF programme.

The Commissioner expressed surprise that the savings had been described in some quarters as "windfall gains".

He said it was important that the Government be consistent in its fiscal policies, and continue to implement measures to reduce the debt burden.

On the issue of the need for a "backstop", or economic cushion, for Ireland when it emerges from the bailout programme, Mr Rehn confirmed that discussions had taken place with the Government on the issue.

He said various options had been outlined to ensure that Ireland's return to the markets is successful.

Among these options is what Mr Rehn described as a "precautionary arrangement", which he said the European Central Bank could decide to be part of.