Austrian parliament approves eurozone rescue fund

Austria’s parliament has approved the eurozone’s permanent rescue fund, clearing the way for the country’s broader participation in the 17-nation zone’s financial crisis management.

The governing left-center coalition was supported by the opposition Green party to surpass the two-thirds of votes needed for approval Wednesday. Opposed were the rightist Freedom Party and the populist BZO, which argue that participation undermines Austrian sovereignty.

The 500 billion Euro European Stability Mechanism fund is meant to be in place by this month, but a legal appeal launched in Germany last week by its opponents could delay or derail it because it cannot take effect without approval by Europe’s biggest economy.

During pre-voting debate Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter compared the ESM to a “highly modern fire department that answers the call during financial crises.”