BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece's budget deficit was smaller by one percent of gross domestic product last year than earlier thought, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat revised data showed, while Ireland's gap was bigger than originally reported in April.
Deficit in debt-troubled Greece, on route to exit six years of recession next year and reach primary surplus this year, was 9.0 percent of GDP, down from the previously reported 10.0 percent and down from 9.5 percent in 2011.
The revision came as a result of updated to deficit figures and not because of a bigger impact of economic growth, Eurostat said.
Ireland, expected to successfully conclude and exit an international financial aid programme by the end of the year, had a deficit of 8.2 percent last year, compared with 7.6 percent reported in April.
It was, however, well below the revised 13.1 percent gap in 2011.
The 17 countries sharing the euro have made fiscal consolidation their top priority, not just for countries receiving external help - Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus and Spain - in order to help restore investor confidence in the 9.5 trillion euro economy.
The euro zone as a whole had a budget deficit of 3.7 percent in 2012, down from 6.4 percent in 2009, but its debt rose to 8.6 trillion euros in 2012, or 90.6 percent of GDP, from 7.1 trillion euros or 80 percent in 2009, Eurostat said.
The single currency area returned to modest growth of 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter of this year after contracting in the previous 18 months, but the nascent recovery remains uneven as the southern periphery countries undergo a painful structural change.(Reporting by Martin Santa)