Greek lawmakers have cleared a series of changes to Greek health services, the final pre-condition set by Europe for a second emergency loan package. The early-morning vote came just hours before an EU leaders' summit.
The Greek parliament convened early Thursday morning and overwhelmingly approved a raft of reforms to the country's health care sector. Deputies passed the reforms by 213 votes to 58, with 17 abstentions.
The health care changes constituted the final precondition for further international Greek aid set by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Politicians in Athens had to convene early to ensure the vote went through ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers and an EU leaders' summit, both taking place in Brussels on Thursday.
Greece had already approved the most significant of its outstanding "prior actions" on Tuesday, clearing 3.2 billion euros ($4.25 billion) in budget cuts, as well as a steep reduction of the minimum wage.
The reforms include extending pharmacy opening hours, developing a computerized prescription system designed to save money and mandating that more generic medicines be purchased to reduce treatment costs.
Police had surrounded parliament as a precaution, anticipating further public protests, but no demonstrations were reported.
Greece is scrambling to qualify for a second package of international emergency loans worth 130 billion euros mostly funded by its European partners and the International Monetary Fund.
msh/acb (AFP, Reuters)