The average repayment term for the €17.7 billion loans extended to Ireland by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) has been extended by up to seven years.

Euro zone finance ministers agreed in April that the repayment terms on loans provided by the EFSF, the temporary bailout fund set up by members of the euro group, to Ireland and Portugal would be altered.

The extra time granted to repay the loans was agreed in the context of the discussion on a bailout programme for Cyprus.

The Board of Directors of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) in Luxembourg has now essentially rubber-stamped that decision.

"The extension will smoothen the debt redemption profile of Ireland and Portugal and lower their refinancing needs in the post-programme period", Klaus Regling, CEO of the EFSF said. "It will enhance the confidence of market participants and thus protect Ireland and Portugal from refinancing risks".

The EFSF has committed €17.7 billion for Ireland out of a total bailout of €85 billion. For Portugal, the EFSF has committed €26 billion which represents one third of its €78 billion programme.

Extended repayment terms on the €22.5 billion loans to Ireland from the European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM), a lending facility controlled by the European Commission and backed by all 27 EU member states, have also been approved.

Commenting on today's agreement, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said it successfully brings to a conclusion negotiations and will reduce the market refinancing requirement by €20 billion over the period 2015 to 2022.

''This builds upon the successful promissory note negotiations which reduced the market refinancing requirement by €20 billion over the next 10 years,'' Mr Noonan said in a statement.

''Taken together, the successful conclusion of both sets of negotiations has delivered a cash flow benefit of €40 billion over the next decade and will further strengthen our ability to make a full and sustainable return to the markets,'' he added.