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German Lawmakers Approve Boost for European Rescue Fund

September 29, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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JEFFREY BROWN: Efforts to contain the debt crisis in Europe took a major step forward today. The German government won a critical vote on expanding a continental bailout fund with greatly increased German financial support. The fund is intended to help Greece and other European nations staggering under a mountain of debt.

We begin our coverage with a report from Faisal Islam of Independent Television News.

FAISAL ISLAM: A vote to save the single currency in Berlin, in the end, resounding backing from Germany’s lower house, the Bundestag, German M.P.s parking their fears about the dizzying exposure of hundreds of billions of euros to debts that aren’t theirs, but this process has exposed serious fault lines in German politics and problems for Chancellor Merkel’s government.

VOLKER KAUDER, German Parliament member (through translator): It’s not about Greece. It’s not about giving money to Greece. It’s an umbrella to protect the whole of Europe. And this is nothing else than in the German national interest, my colleagues.

FAISAL ISLAM: It was yet more tough austerity from Greece, including privatization in property taxes to help this vote to pass.

Yet, in Greece today, remarkable occupations of seven government ministries by angry civil servants to meet the return to Athens of the so-called troika of IMF and EU economic inspectors. The specter of Greece not paying even more of its debts is gaining ground in Germany, even one politician who could end up the next center-left German chancellor backing it in today’s debate.

But it’s also the next chapter of this rolling euro crisis brewing already. The Berlin Wall, or at least a piece of it, just across the western border of Germany at Schengen, the place where Europe’s politicians allowed its people free movement across borders.

This place is the a temple to the dissolving of borders within Europe built on the place where Luxembourg, Germany and France meet. But the euro crisis is beginning to build barriers again, not just within German politics, but differences of approach from Germany over there and France over there.

Unlike Germany, France is very nervous about pushing Greece to renege on more of its pile of debt. It’s worried about the impact on its banking system, one euro stress alleviated, and another one seems to appear.