German parliament passes expanded euro fund

German lawmakers have cleared the way for an expansion of the size and powers of the eurozone bailout fund, in a major step toward tackling the bloc’s sprawling sovereign debt crisis.

A clear majority of lawmakers in Germany’s lower house of parliament voted Thursday in favor of expanding the fund’s capacities in a vote that was also seen as a test of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition.

The vote means Germany will be guaranteeing loans worth 211 billion euros to the so-called European Financial Stability Facility, or EFSF, bailout fund.

The measure will be put to the upper house of parliament on Friday, where it is expected to pass. [AP]