Parliament passes billion-euro rescue fund
Germany’s governing coalition on Friday managed to push a billion-euro rescue package for the eurozone through parliament after warning the future of Europe’s single currency was at stake.
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.
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.