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Germans agree on fiscal pact vote this month

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Germans agree on fiscal pact vote this month
Photo: DPA
15:36 CEST+02:00
The German government and opposition agreed on Thursday that parliament would vote on ratifying the EU fiscal pact and the bloc's new bailout fund on June 29, the ruling parties said.

The deal between Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition and the centre-left opposition indicated that the eurozone's top economy would manage timely approval of tools seen as key to fighting the raging debt crisis.

"The just-agreed timetable ensures that the European Stability Mechanism, together with the fiscal pact, can come into force on time," the head of Merkel's Christian Union parliamentary group, Volker Kauder, said.

"We are now on track for Germany to live up to its responsibilities in Europe," he added in a statement.

His counterpart with the pro-business Free Democrats, Rainer Brüderle, agreed the deal sent the right message.

"It is important that we move to assure European stability as soon as possible," he said in a separate statement. "If the opposition sees that the same way, we welcome it."

Parliament must pass the draft laws on the fiscal treaty, a new European budgetary rule book, with a two-thirds majority.

However its quick passage, which the government aimed to see completed by the start of the summer recess on July 6, had been thrown into question by squabbling between the ruling parties and the opposition.

A spokesman for the parliamentary group of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats (SPD), said the timetable did not imply an agreement on all the contentious points and that negotiations would continue.

The new roadmap would see the Bundestag lower house vote at 5 pm June 29, the spokesman for the Christian Union parliamentary group, Ulrich Scharlack, said, confirming earlier comments from party sources.

The draft laws would then move to a vote in the Bundesrat upper house, where Germany's powerful 16 regional states are represented, Scharlack said.

This would come after the scheduled end of a pivotal June 28 and 29 European Union summit on the eurozone crisis.

Driven through by Merkel and signed by 25 of the European Union's 27 member states, the fiscal pact aims to enforce stricter budgetary rules in the bloc and prevent the high public deficits that touched off the eurozone turmoil.

In addition to SPD deputies, members of the ecologist Green party have indicated they will support the fiscal pact but are demanding concessions in exchange.

They would like to see pledges that Berlin will push for a disputed EU-wide tax on financial transactions and would use the revenues from the levy to fund more growth-boosting measures.

SPD chief Sigmar Gabriel said Merkel recognised the need to commit to efforts to bolster growth and embraced the aim of taxing financial transactions.

But on the issue of growth in particular, he said that "there are no concrete proposals."

Gabriel and two other leading Social Democrats met French President Francois Hollande in Paris late Wednesday to discuss ways to get Europe out of the debt turmoil.

Hollande has positioned himself as an advocate of growth rather than German-led austerity as the way out of Europe's debt crisis.

Designed as a successor to the EU's current bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) has core funds of €500 billion to help struggling eurozone countries deal with the debt crisis.

Analysts said Germany's approval of the ESM by the end of the month would help it come into effect as planned on July 1.

"So far, only France, the Netherlands and Slovakia have approved. However, if cleared in Germany in time, the ESM is unlikely to be delayed further," Christian Schulz of Berenberg Bank said.

"Spain or Italy have every interest in approving it for lack of an alternative."

AFP/jcw

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