Merkel wins euro fund vote, warns on prosperity

Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:12pm EDT
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By Thorsten Severin

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Europe not to be complacent about its peace and prosperity on Wednesday, as German lawmakers approved plans to boost the firepower of the euro zone rescue fund ahead of an emergency EU summit.

Addressing a packed parliament before the vote, Merkel urged the lower house Bundestag to fulfill its "historic duty" and said Europe was in its toughest phase since the end of World War Two.

"No one should take for it for granted that there will be peace and affluence in Europe in the next half century," said Merkel, a pastor's daughter brought up in Communist eastern Germany.

"The world is watching Germany and Europe to see if we are ready and able to take responsibility. If the euro fails, Europe fails," said Merkel, in a characteristically sober tone.

The vote binds Merkel to sticking closely to the text of the motion passed by the Bundestag, boosting her bargaining power at the Brussels summit on issues such as the European Central Bank's involvement in tackling the crisis.

The prospects of a comprehensive deal looked dim, however, with disagreements remaining in several crucial areas.

The Bundestag's vice president said of the 596 lawmakers who voted, 503 backed the motion, 89 opposed it and there were four abstentions.

"With its clear, cross-party majority, the German parliament has strengthened the hand of the German government in its negotiations on fighting the euro debt crisis," said Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle after the vote.   Continued...