Patience with bailouts wears thin among Merkel MPs

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 06, 2012 6:50 AM
Patience with bailouts wears thin among Merkel MPs

BERLIN (Reuters) - Senior lawmakers from Angela Merkel's conservatives warned on Friday of growing resentment at perceived concessions by Germany on euro zone bailout schemes, exacerbated by Italy's portrayal of the last EU summit as a setback for the chancellor.

At the June 28-29 summit, Italy's technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti and Spanish leader Mariano Rajoy overcame Merkel's reluctance to use the bailout funds to stabilize bond markets and directly help the banks of struggling euro zone countries.

"I think we are getting near the limit of what the Bundestag (lower house) and the population are willing to bear," Michael Stuebgen, speaker on European policy for the conservatives in the German parliament, told Reuters.

Merkel has insisted the summit agreements do not contradict Germany's insistence on strict conditions for aid to its euro zone partners or its opposition, based on German law, to accepting liability for other nations' debt.

Stuebgen and the conservatives' parliamentary leader Volker Kauder, who was interviewed in a German newspaper, expressed anger at Monti's portrayal of the summit as a defeat for Merkel.

"Mario Monti's comments ... were out of order. He gave the impression that he had won and the chancellor lost. But Monti's interpretation was wrong and other countries, including Finland, have since contradicted him," Kauder told Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The conservative parliamentary leader said this erroneous interpretation had contributed to 26 MPs from the ruling centre-right coalition voting against the ratification of the permanent bailout fund (European Stability Mechanism) and the fiscal pact for budget discipline on July 29, hours after the summit.

The ESM and fiscal pact were approved with large majorities in both the lower and upper house thanks to opposition support, but must now be endorsed by the Constitutional Court and head of state before German ratification is complete.

Kauder said it was acceptable to pass the laws with the help of opposition MPs, but added: "It is true that there are more, not fewer, questions in our parliamentary bloc (about the bailouts)."

"Our partners in Europe should take note," Kauder said.

Impatience with Germany's growing exposure to the sovereign debt problems of its euro zone partners was also expressed in an open letter by about 150 economists published in a German paper on Thursday.

The economists said Merkel had been forced into "wrong" decisions at the EU summit regarding the banking system. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a radio interview on Friday he was "furious" at the economists for misleading the public.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Stephen Brown; Writing by Stephen Brown, Editing by Gareth Jones)