ATHENS (AFP) - Greece raced to raise billions of euros on Monday with a seven-year bond issue on the back of a European Union financial lifeline to contain a debt crisis which has weakened the euro. The issue attracted offers worth 6.5 billion euros (8.7 billion dollars) at a yield, or rate, of 6.0 percent and the state is expected to settle for five billion euros, financial website reported with finance ministry sources. That rate is about twice the rate at which Germany, the strongest economy in the eurozone, pays to borrow for 10 years. Greece must raise huge sums urgently by May to repay debt of 20 billion euros (27 billion dollars), and must also bridge a huge budget deficit to pay current bills. Quite logically, Greece is testing its access to the markets after the backing received from Brussels, noted Valerie Plagnol, a bond strategist at CM-CIC Securities. The question is at which point the country no longer has access... for that is when the crisis will strike, she told AFP. The latest bond issue, to raise an unstated amount, contrasted with the last urgent effort to raise funds on March 4, the day after draconian budget cuts were announced. That was for a 10-year bond which attracted offers totalling 16 billion euros. But the government, complaining bitterly about the high rates it had to pay, restricted the amount to the initial 5.0 billion euros, at an average rate of 6.38 percent. It then raised sharply pressure on the European Union to offer some form of lifeline to bring down the rate demanded by lenders. That pressure deepened a crisis within the EU. Prime Minister George Papandreou has acknowledged that Greece came close to being unable to borrow. The recession-hit country overall needs to raise around 54 billion euros in loans this year. Part of that money is needed for pensions, some of which are not guaranteed from June. At in London, research director Jane Foley, commenting on expectations that Greece would rush to test the market, said: Not only will this sale be a crucial test for Greece but it will set the scene as to what happens next in EMU (the eurozone). A poor response will raise the likelihood that Greece will be forced to ask for financial assistance. She said that a poor bond outcome would also increase the risk of contagion to Portugal. At Greek brokers Pegasus, analyst Manos Hatzidakis said: The aid plan approved last week creates a positive climate in the short term but more time will be needed to gauge the long-term effects. The yield on Greek 10-year bonds rose again on Monday to 6.208 percent compared to 6.193 percent late Friday. The rate had gone up to almost seven percent earlier this year. Plagnol said that one must not forget how much of a safeguard the euro is for European lenders and commented: In this context, the markets are confirming the (EU) guarantee given on Thursday. The EU agreed on an unprecedented contingency plan which would involve the International Monetary Fund. However, the scheme was not clear on which criteria would trigger help, which would have to be approved by the EU and therefore Germany which says its main concern is eurozone stability and not the interest rate Greece must pay. The Greek bond yield fell after the EU deal was announced. The socialist government has launched austerity measures which include pay cuts, a sales tax rise and a freeze in public and private sector pensions in order to reduce a public deficit that reached 12.7 percent of output in 2009. The measures have sparked two general strikes and street protests which unions warn will continue after the Easter break. Greeces finance minister said on Sunday that the EU lifeline was a step towards historic change and new economic management for eurozone members. It was a step in the direction of a new model of economic governance in the eurozone... a historic evolution, the minister George Papaconstantinou said. In that context, we come closer to what was previously envisaged, toward the creation of European support mechanisms for member countries.