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German MPs agree euro zone bailout boost

German MPs agree euro zone bailout boost
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The German parliament has approved, by an overwhelming majority, a plan to boost the lending capacity of the euro zone bailout fund by 440 billion euros.

MPs agreed by 523 votes to 85 to back an earlier EU decision to increase the European Financial Stability Facility.

“The Greek social cuts are worth 330 billion euros,” said former German Finance Minister Peer Steinbruck. “I’d be grateful if there was a bit more respect for the efforts there.”

The potential challenger to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership in 2013 admitted that the Bundestag would face similar protests if the German economy were to require similar austerity measures. “I don’t know what the square behind me would look like,” he told reporters following the vote.

In Athens, civil servants prevented visiting officials from entering the finance ministry building as talks continued with EU and IMF inspectors to release eight billion euros in aid to help avoid bankruptcy next month.

Meanwhile striking taxi drivers took to motorcycles as they continued their protest outside the Greek parliament. The drivers oppose plans to liberalise the awarding of taxi licences.