French parliament approves Europe bailout fund

February 21, 2012 - 1:35 PM

PARIS (AP) — The French lower house of parliament has approved financing for the permanent European bailout fund and new belt-tightening measures for France.

The measure was part of an amended 2012 budget that includes a hike in value-added tax aimed at reducing France's large debt.

The National Assembly, dominated by conservatives from President Nicolas Sarkozy, overwhelmingly adopted the new budget Tuesday. Leftists opposed it.

It includes France's share of financing this year for the European Stability Mechanism. The euro500 billion ESM is meant to take over from the short-term fund that was used to help Greece, Portugal and Ireland deal with heavy debts.

France is the eurozone's second-biggest economy and its contribution is important to the overall rescue fund.