Germany acts to speed up eurozone aid decisions

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Germany on Wednesday designated a small group of lawmakers to make rapid parliament decisions on future financial aid for crisis-hit eurozone countries.

The 620-strong Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, empowered nine of its members to make decisions when extreme speed is needed, such as on buying bonds, providing aid to banks or using the eurozone bailout fund.

Under a law adopted in September, all questions of financial aid to help the eurozone chart its way out of the current debt crisis need the backing of parliament's 41-member budgetary committee.

It followed a ruling by the country's top court that parliament should have a greater say when deciding to contribute billions of euros of aid for the eurozone.

However, out of practical concerns, deputies agreed to create a small sub-group within the budgetary committee to vote quickly and in secret on urgent matters.

The eurozone bailout fund's German head, Klaus Regling, had voiced concerns about the ability of the budgetary committee to meet and rule on matters quickly enough. When parliament is not sitting, deputies are rarely in Berlin at the same time.

And other top EU officials have criticised the court ruling, saying it slows down the procedure, especially in times of crisis.

"Organisational speed in Berlin is slower than in the other capitals," Jean-Claude Juncker, prime minister of Luxembourg and head of the eurozone finance ministers, told top news weekly Der Spiegel on Monday.

The political make-up of the new body respects the size of the parties within parliament.

© 2011 AFP

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