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EU finance ministers to push for progress on banking union, may extend Irish, Portuguese loans

Finance ministers from the 27 countries of the European Union are pushing for progress on creating a single supervisor to watch over Europe's banks — a task officials say has assumed greater urgency since a banking crisis in Cyprus pushed it to seek an international bailout.

The finance ministers, meeting Friday in Dublin, will also consider extending the repayment schedules on bailout loans previously given to Ireland and Portugal. That would ease the burden of repayment, reducing the squeeze on government spending and allowing the countries' economies to grow more quickly.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the group finance ministers from the 17 EU countries that use the euro, says extending the payment schedules is "very important for these countries," because it helps them "to get out of the program."