NEWS

EU, Germany welcome Parliament vote

The European Union on Wednesday hailed a decision by the Greek Parliament to approve a controversial package of austerity measures, seen as critical to avoid default.

“The country has taken an important step forward along the necessary path of fiscal consolidation and growth-enhancing structural reform,» European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a joint statement following the vote which was marked by tension inside and outside the House.

“But it has also taken a vital step back — from the very grave scenario of default. This was a vote of national responsibility.”

Government fears of a rebellion within the ruling PASOK party did not materialize and several of the MPs who had indicated that they would oppose the measures changed their position at the last minute, which meant that 155 deputies voted in favor of the plan and 138 against.

The vote took place amid violent clashes between riot police and furious demonstrators, including groups of self-styled anarchists. The clashes are still ongoing.

Germany, the economic powerhouse of the 27-member bloc and a strong advocate of Greece’s structural reform, also welcomed the development as ?very good news,? AFP reported quoting a tweet posted by Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Greece’s international creditors had said passing the measures, dubbed the midterm economic program, was a condition for releasing the next slice of a bailout loan.

An additional bill setting out how the austerity measures will be implemented is to be voted on Thursday.