BRUSSELS, April 21 (Reuters) - Greece had a primary budget surplus before debt service last year, beating the target set in its bailout programme, the European Commission said on Thursday after the EU statistics office released data on member states' budgets.
A Commission spokeswoman said Athens recorded a primary surplus of 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2015.
"This is in line with the Commission baseline and indeed substantially better than the programme's fiscal target of a primary deficit of 0.25 percent of GDP for 2015," the spokeswoman added.
The primary balance is a key indicator to assess Greece's progress in its third international financial rescue. The Greek government was pinning hopes of avoiding tougher austerity measures sought by the International Monetary Fund and euro zone lenders on achieving a better budget position. (Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Paul Taylor)