German parliament is debating a motion on whether to allow negotiations on Greece’s €86 billion bailout deal.
Opening the debate, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of “predictable chaos” if deputies did not back the plan.
The deal is expected to be passed despite opposition from the left and some members of Angela Merkel’s conservative party.
Greece’s parliament has already voted in favor of hard-hitting austerity measures required for a third bailout deal.
On July 16, the European Central Bank (ECB) raised the level of emergency funding available. This has paved the way for Greek banks, which shut nearly three weeks ago, to reopen on July 20.
However, credit controls limiting cash withdrawals to €60 a day will only be eased gradually, officials say.
Eurozone ministers have also agreed a €7 billion bridging loan from an EU-wide fund to keep finances afloat.
Chancellor Angela Merkel told German lawmakers ahead of today’s vote that the deal was hard for all sides, but said it was the “last” attempt to resolve the crisis.
“We would be grossly negligent, indeed acting irresponsibly if we did not at least try this path,” she said.
A number of eurozone countries require parliamentary approval to go ahead with bailout talks, including Austria, which is also voting on July 17. Both the French and Finnish parliaments have already backed the deal.
Meanwhile, there have been fresh calls for Greek debt relief measures from International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde – echoing a call from Greek PM Alexis Tsipras.
Christine Lagarde told France’s Europe 1 the IMF would participate in a “complete” Greek package that includes debt restructuring, as well as an “in-depth reform” of the Greek economy.
Greece has debts of €320 billion and is seeking its third international bailout. Last month it became the first developed country to fail to make a repayment on a loan from the IMF.
The Greek bank closures have been one of the most visible signs of the crisis.
From July 20, a weekly limit on withdrawals may replace a daily cap, Greek Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas suggested.
“If someone doesn’t want to take €60 on Monday and wants to take it on Tuesday, for instance, they can withdraw €120, or €180 on Wednesday,” he told Greek ERT television.
The announcements from the ECB and the Eurogroup came after Greek lawmakers passed tough reforms on taxes, pensions and labor rules as part of the new bailout deal.
A rise in value added tax (VAT) from 13% to 23% will kick in on July 20, affecting food and drink in restaurants, taxi fares, selected supermarket items, public transport and plane and ferry tickets.
PM Alexis Tsipras faced opposition to the deal from lawmakers within his left Syriza party. He is widely expected to announce a cabinet reshuffle on July 17.
Germany’s top court in Karlsruhe is about to deliver its verdict on whether the ongoing attempts to contain the eurozone crisis breach the country’s constitution.
The Constitutional Court will decide whether the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) bailout fund and the European fiscal treaty are legal.
It is feared a negative decision could spark fresh turmoil in the markets.
Analysts expect the court will decide the schemes are legal and can continue – but only under certain conditions.
Germany's top court in Karlsruhe is about to deliver its verdict on whether the ongoing attempts to contain the eurozone crisis breach the country's constitution
The court has recently allowed steps towards greater European integration, but has insisted the German parliament be given a greater say over decisions.
Critics argue that the ESM commits Germany to potentially unlimited funding of debt-ridden southern eurozone countries.
Some 37,000 people have signed a petition to the court asking it to block the ESM, and make it subject to a referendum.
Since Germany is due to contribute 27% to the 500 billion-euro rescue fund, it cannot proceed without German ratification.
In addition to its ESM verdict, the Constitutional Court is also due to rule on a new fiscal treaty aimed at forcing eurozone governments to adhere to strict budget discipline.
This is one of the most important cases faced by the court in post-war German history.
It has caused intense debate, with politicians and lawyers from across the political spectrum joining the case against the government – from the left party, Die Linke, to dissidents from within the government party.
If the judges take a hard line against the government and in favor of the plaintiffs, then the elaborate and laborious efforts to keep the euro together will be dealt a severe blow, perhaps a fatal one.
A likely outcome is that the judges will say the treaties are within the constitution – but then put a string of caveats in place, which might constrain, for instance, how the bailout fund could be expanded in the future.
Jewish and Muslim groups living in Europe have joined forces to defend circumcision for young boys on religious grounds after a German regional court ruled it amounted to bodily harm.
A joint statement says the practice is fundamental to their faiths and calls for it to be awarded legal protection.
The ruling by the Cologne court – also criticized by the Israeli parliament – does not apply to the whole of Germany.
But Germany’s Medical Association told doctors not to perform circumcisions.
Thousands of Muslim and Jewish boys are circumcised in Germany every year.
Jewish and Muslim groups living in Europe have joined forces to defend circumcision for young boys
The unusual joint statement was signed by leaders of groups including the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, the European Jewish Parliament, the European Jewish Association, Germany’s Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs and the Islamic Centre Brussels.
“We consider this to be an affront (to) our basic religious and human rights,” it said.
“Circumcision is an ancient ritual that is fundamental to our individual faiths and we protest in the strongest possible terms against this court ruling.
“To that end we will vigorously defend our right to maintain our mutual tradition and call on the German parliament and all political parties to intervene in overruling this decision as a matter of urgency.”
The leaders also met members of the European parliament and the Bundestag to express their anger and insist that the German parliament establish clear legal protections for the rite.
The German government is clearly uneasy about the ruling, particularly after accusations that it was inappropriate for the country of the Holocaust to outlaw a fundamental ritual of Judaism.
The ruling by the Cologne court followed a legal case involving a doctor who carried out a circumcision on a four year-old that led to medical complications.
The court said that a child’s right to physical integrity trumped religious and parental rights.
The doctor involved in the case was acquitted and the ruling was not binding. However, critics fear it could set a precedent that could be followed by other German courts.
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