Date
25 November 2017
The antipoverty law could benefit Greece's poorest, including this homeless man in central Athens. Photo: Reuters
The antipoverty law could benefit Greece's poorest, including this homeless man in central Athens. Photo: Reuters

Greece adopts antipoverty law, defying EU pressure

The Greek parliament has overwhelmingly passed a “humanitarian crisis” bill to help the country’s poorest people, ignoring pressure from the European Union to halt the legislation.

Germany warned that time was “tight” for debt-ridden Greece, on the eve of an EU summit in Brussels where anti-austerity Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is hoping for a breakthrough in talks about his reforms.

Wednesday’s first package of social measures put forward by Tsipras’ radical left-wing government drew support across the board in parliament, including from the conservative, former ruling New Democracy party, AFP reported.

The bill had prompted a request from Declan Costello, a representative on the European Commission team monitoring Greece, asking the government to stall the vote on what Brussels called “unilateral” measures.

Tsipras was defiant ahead of the vote in parliament, saying: “Some technocrats are trying to scare us with ultimatums.”

He is to meet the French and German leaders plus the EU’s top officials late Thursday in Brussels to plead his case for relaxing the terms of Greece’s bailout program.

The antipoverty law will provide a capped amount of free electricity and food stamps for the poorest households — a key election pledge of Tsipras’ Syriza Party when it swept to power in January.

Some will also receive a housing allowance.

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