German president readies bailout treaty for final ratification
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's head of state on Thursday signed his country's agreement to the euro zone's new bailout fund but ratification will not be complete until the government meets the conditions set by the top court.
President Joachim Gauck's signature removed one of the final hurdles to ratification of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), an important tool to stem the euro zone's three year debt crisis. Germany is the only country in the 17-nation currency bloc that has not ratified the ESM.
Ratification has been held up for months by complaints against the ESM lodged with Germany's Constitutional Court, which finally gave the green light on Wednesday, albeit on two conditions.
"Federal President Joachim Gauck today issued the laws in the so-called 'rescue scheme'," his office said in a statement, adding that these laws included the fiscal compact for budget discipline.
Gauck's office said formal ratification would not be complete until the government had met the terms set by the Constitutional Court, which has insisted in particular that the German parliament be given veto rights over any increase in Berlin's contribution to the 700 billion euro ESM.
"For the ESM treaty to legally enter into force, it still requires ratification by the president," the statement said, listing the specifications made by the court a day earlier.
The government may have to incorporate the court's reservations, which were less onerous than many had feared, in some form of addendum or protocol to the ESM treaty, although this is not expected to take much time.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Stephen Brown; Editing by Alison Williams)
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