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Parliament passes billion-euro rescue fund

DDP/The Local · 21 May 2010, 14:57

Published: 21 May 2010 10:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 May 2010 14:57 GMT+02:00

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Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition of Christian and Free Democrats backed controversial legislation approving Germany’s share of a €750-billion ($914-billion) emergency fund for troubled nations using the euro.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told the Bundestag that approval of the package was crucial to market stability.

The bill must be passed "because markets trust it only once it has actually been implemented," he said. "It is a reality that markets look more at Germany than at Cyprus or Malta."

Parliamentary whip for the conservative Christian Democrats Peter Altmaier had told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that he expected a “wide acceptance” for the rescue package, however, only 319 MPs voted for it, while 195 abstained and 73 opposed it.

“We have had a serious and responsible discussion,” Altmaier said before the vote, saying it was crucial to the eurozone.

But Jürgen Trittin, parliamentary group leader for the opposition Greens on Friday criticised the timing of the vote, saying MPs still didn’t have all the information they need.

“It’s unnecessary for the vote to take place in parliament today,” Trittin told broadcaster ZDF, explaining that other European Union countries would not be voting to pass the package until June.

“We would like to say ‘yes,’” Trittin told ZDF. “But we must also know under what conditions the money will be allocated.”

Trittin told Deutschlandfunk that his party has long pushed for a European monetary fund, and said the rescue package meant to prevent Greece’s financial mess from spreading to the rest of Europe was a “step in the right direction.”

Because the information is lacking, he said the environmentalist Greens will abstain from supporting Germany’s share in the bailout package, which could be as much as €150 billion.

Story continues below…

The opposition centre-left Social Democrats abstained during the Friday vote. Deputy leader of the party’s parliamentary group Hubertus Heil defended the decision, telling ZDF that they supported the rescue fund but believed the package did not go far enough to enact consequences for the crisis.

The hard-line socialist Left party voted against the measure.

The upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, approved the package later on Friday afternoon.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:01 May 21, 2010 by munchau
We must help our Southern European Brothers and sisters with more money or else the euro project will die.
14:05 May 21, 2010 by Zobirdie
And so the responsible northern nations will pay for Club Med. I think this is sad and revolting. And what will happen when the South has bankrupted the North? The Eurozone was a nice experiment but it's time to end it. Reform into something that isn't bloated and is accountable.
14:43 May 21, 2010 by marimay
Yeah, this is a temporary fix if anything. Long-term, this problem will arise again.
14:52 May 21, 2010 by munchau
I disagree, we Germans have been forcing our exports and loans on the Greeks, we are to blame and we should recycle our profits from the trade surplus back to the poor of Europe. I for one am happy for this day - i in fact hope for one day to sing to a European anthem as a European citizen and not a German one. I
17:12 May 21, 2010 by JDee
It's a lot of money to protect politcial symbolism, surely the truth is about protecting the EU Project, which is the selfish interest of the politcial classes. Talk of 'protecting the Euro', as if the money will somehow disappear is nonsense, it's just a symbol, a measure of value, any Euro country changing their currency will still have just as much money as before. Nearly all businesses must have mechanisms in place to deal with multiple currenceis already, even if they are only trading in Europe they will likely deal with Sweden, GB, Russia... so the upheaval would not be so great. They could even continue to use the Euro for cash.
17:35 May 21, 2010 by Fatz Lewinski
I cannot understand the "selfish interest of the politcial classes" point at all. However, I learned something from the Herald Trib last week! It seems that this action is more to protect the interests of French and German banks that have overreached in countries like Greece. If Greece goes down, so does a lot of French and German pension money.

Any Euro country changing their currency will not have the as much money as before if that money is leant from Euro based banks

Companies that actively trade in Euro countries but manufacture in non Euro countries often request local suppliers to trade in Euro. I work with a company with head offices in CH and GB. They price in Euro only.
17:47 May 21, 2010 by William Thirteen
a hundred billion here, a hundred billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money!
18:30 May 21, 2010 by munchau
French and German banks have combined exposure to PIIGS debt

of Euro 1,2 tr (Source Bundesbank)
19:01 May 21, 2010 by michael4096
After all the bluster, what have we got: what the government knew was needed. And the benefit: the government cannot be held accountable, they were held over a barrel.

No losers
19:45 May 21, 2010 by Yahu777
We are ALL losers! Shut down the Euro and restore the Deutsche Mark or we'll all be paying for the arrogant, corrupt, and deceptive Socialist elites' excesses until this system comes crashing down on our heads! Which is exactly what it is beginning to do now!
22:08 May 21, 2010 by vonSchwerin
Those MPs who abstained are cowards. Either vote for the resolution or vote against it. And if you vote against it, you had better have a good reason why and have your own plan.
04:27 May 22, 2010 by Thames
I find it interesting that in the picture it is the EU flag that flys in front of the Reichtag, and the words: Dem Deutchen Volk. It makes me wonder if these parlimentarians are actually interested in the German people or their multicutral, socialist utopia also known as the EU.
09:00 May 22, 2010 by ColoSlim
@ munchau, I think you should adopt the phrase, "EU Love it or leave it." It must be difficult for Europeans to have two identities.

Don't worry about the money, Parliament would have squandered it somewhere else anyway.
11:35 May 23, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
@Zobirdie I agree in part, but it is banking interests that are being protected. Those of the German type. Could the Politicians have something at stake here? When we make bad decisions, who bails us out? Our assets are taken. It is all about the Banks... Who is Germany and Greece indebted to? The banks. @ munchau If you have so much love for Greece, then move there. I am German first! The EU is secondary! DU SAU!
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