The Irish government is to invite public service unions to discussions on further cost reduction and productivity in order to ensure it meets its deficit targets by 2015.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has requested the government to authorize the invitation.

A spokesperson indicated that it was hoped a new agreement could be finalized early in the New Year, although the Croke Park Agreement would remain in place.

The spokesperson confirmed that the new agreement would involve negotiating additional productivity and change for public servants next year over and above the terms of Croke Park, which does not expire until the end of 2013.

The government is seeking what was described as a "sustainable additional fall" in the cost of public service delivery over the next three years.

This is to ensure it meets its fiscal consolidation targets and reduces its deficit to below three percent by 2015.

As the gross public service pay and pensions bill accounts for 35 percent of overall spending this year, the government believes that it should contribute around one third of what is required over the next three years.

To meet that target for cutting expenditure, the government considers that a new agreement is required.

A spokesperson stressed that the Croke Park Agreement remains in force, however service management have recently identified a number of challenging agendas that need to be progressed under that deal.

The talks will be led on the government side by a small team of negotiators from Howlin's department.