Robert HARNEIS -TDO-(FRANCE)- The European Commission has threatened infringement proceedings against Germany after its Constitutional Court over-ruled a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling.
The President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen commented ‘I take this affair very seriously. The Commission is analyzing in detail the judgement of more than one hundred pages… Based on our conclusions we are examining the possibility of taking legal action.’
The German Constitutional Court has ruled that it has the right to order the German central bank, the Bundesbank, not to take part in financing operations of the European Central Bank (ECB) if they are in breach of the German Constitution. It also ruled that a ruling of the European Court of Justice of 2018 that approved the actions of the ECB in 2015 was ineffective because it was ‘arbitrary’.
Von der Leyen continued ‘I can guarantee you, the monetary policy of the Union is an exclusive competence, and European Law overrides national law.’ The question at issue is – what is European Law?
The strength of the reaction from Brussels is confirmation of how seriously the legal threat is taken. It has already triggered comments from Poland and Hungary that the German decision is ‘one of the most important in the history of the EU’. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki commented ‘for the first time, the judges have underlined that it is for the member states to decide the limits of the EU institutions and not the other way round.’ He added ‘The ECJ has very important prerogatives but only in the areas agreed by the member states’.
What is significant in this development is that Von der Leyen is a former German Minister of Defense and a close ally of German Angela Merkel who is in turn not pleased with the German court’s ruling.
This is, in effect, a battle between Germans. Does Germany continue to take decisions in favor of the EU as a whole or is it time to call a halt and put Germany first? The German court decision reflects growing concern, especially on the right, that the ECB is stretching or breaking the rules and pushing through policies that commit Germany to joint liability for a massive unlawful money printing exercise to help Italy and save the Euro.
The fact that Germany takes over the presidency of the EU in July makes the German court’s ruling particularly embarrassing for Chancellor Merkel.