Belgium lower house approves second Greece bailout

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Belgium's lower house of parliament on Tuesday approved the second bailout for debt-straddled Greece agreed at a July 21 summit of the 17 nations sharing the single currency.

The vote in favour of taking part in the 159-billion-euro lifeline to Greece comes a week after the French parliament gave its green light to take part in the rescue.

Adopted by a large majority, with 114 votes in favour, 13 against and one abstention, the motion goes before the senate on Wednesday, where it is expected to also be endorsed.

Belgium's separatist rightist party, the Vlaams Belang, opposed the motion as did a populist parliamentarian.

The vote was to agree to increase the size of the eurozone's rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), to 440 billion euros.

That would increase Belgium's guarantees to the bailout fund from 15.3 billion euros to 34.5 billion euros.

The second bailout for Greece, after a first 110-billion-euro rescue in May last year, cannot come into effect until it has been approved by all eurozone states, some of which have to put the increased EFSF participation to parliament.

Greece however is currently struggling to convince its international rescuers that it has met debt and deficit reduction conditions needed to receive further funds.

© 2011 AFP

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