On Thursday, the German parliament approved the EU bailout plan for Spain by a vast majority. Members of the Bundestag backed the package by a 473 to 97 vote. Unlike Greece, Spain will not get a full-scale bailout, but up to 100bn euros (£ 78bn; $122bn) to refinance its ailing savings banks. The country is hoping to receive the first tranche of 30bn by the end of the month.
Germany is paying about 30 percent of the total amount for the bailout and insists that Spain meet all financial obligations associated with the money, including a restructuring of the banks, which have left behind a legacy of bad property loans.
While German chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity has not suffered as a result of the euro crisis yet, the German public is becoming increasingly uneasy about their country’s commitments. German voters and politicians alike fear that they will ultimately be the ones to foot the bill. In the online version of the daily Die Welt, the parliament’s approval has been described as “Germany’s last gesture of European solidarity”, alluding to M.P.s’ demands that there be no further big bailout after this one.
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Faced with the growing skepticism, Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, addressed German viewers via YouTube to explain that Germany’s help is in the country’s own best interest and that it will stabilise the euro zone. Schäuble stressed that German taxpayers’ money was not at risk as Spain will be liable as a country for the aid.
But reassurances notwithstanding, the debate is growing about who will be liable in case Spain cannot meet its financial obligations, a scenario many consider likely. The leading dalily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, for instance, has estimated that it will take Spain thirteen years to return to its pre-crisis levels – and that this shall happen only if a tremendous 300,000 jobs will be created each year after the recession comes to an end in 2013.
Spain will receive the first tranche from the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility), a temporary funding program which expires in 2013 and is then supposed to be replaced by the ESM (European Stability Mechanism). That, however, is subject to the condition that four countries which have constitutionally challenged the ESM will finally ratify it. Among them is Germany, whose constitutional court announced it will deliver its ruling by mid-September.