• Germany's news in English
 

Constitutional Court mulls euro bailout fund

The Local · 10 Jul 2012, 11:56

Published: 10 Jul 2012 11:56 GMT+02:00

Those who filed a challenge at the court, hoping to prevent Germany joining the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), say it would severely undermine German sovereignty by transferring too much power to European institutions.

Former Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin headed an application signed by 12,000 private individuals, while a group of professors also submitted a complaint - as did both conservative and far left politicians.

The ESM is different from other euro rescue plans as it would set up a permanent fund of €700 billion - 27 percent of which Germany would provide.

The fiscal compact accompanying it limits the amount of money different states could borrow, and set out how those which borrowed too much could be punished.

Opponents say this permanence would undermine the ability of German politicians to make budgetary decisions. A handful of demonstrators assembled in front of the court in Karlsruhe on Tuesday morning, symbolically carrying a copy of the constitution to the grave.

But the fact that the court is taking its time to consider the ESM – putting its ratification on hold – has infuriated many politicians who have been urging the judges to decide in its favour. Some have been warning of dire consequences for the entire continent should the court stop the rescue measures.

Desperate for progress

Normally politicians refrain from commenting on the court’s work as a sign of respect for its importance and independence, so this abandonment of normal practice shows how desperate some are to see the euro rescue progress.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger was even moved to warn colleagues against trying to pressure the court. “Government and politicians should keep absolutely out of this – the Constitutional Court does not need any advice,” she told Tuesday’s Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

“The judges know the significance their decision will have for the economy,” she said.

Free Democratic Party MEP Alexander Count Lambsdorff had criticised the court for not knowing enough about European institutions to be capable of making a decision. He was echoing Social Democrat Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, who last week said some of the court's verdicts were “characterised by great ignorance.”

Parliamentary president Norbert Lammert, of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) warned at the weekend of grave consequences should the ESM and fiscal pact not succeed. “That is why I have no doubt that the Federal Constitutional Court will include this context in its judgement,” he said.

Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt even entered the fray, calling last week for the court to rule in favour of the measures.

Opening the proceedings on Tuesday morning, presiding Constitutional Court judge Andreas Voßkuhle said, "Europe needs democratic constitutional states just as democratic constitutional states need Europe."

He said the court would not examine the constitutionality of the ESM and fiscal pact, but only decide whether to ask the president to delay signing the law pending a closer examination - which would cause significant hold-ups. The court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of this month.

ESM and Fiscal Pact

The ESM was supposed to start operation in July, but its launch depends on ratification from enough eurozone states to ensure that 90 percent of its €700 billion capital is covered. Until now 13 of the 17 eurozone states have ratified their participation.

The Estonian constitutional court is checking the treaty, while the Italian and Maltese parliaments have yet to decide. Because Germany is due to contribute 27 percent of the capital, it effectively has a veto on whether it happens.

The fiscal pact, which obliges those who sign it to balance their budgets and reduce national debt, was signed by 25 of the 27 European Union countries in March – UK and Czech Republic stayed out of it.

It has to be adopted in national law, and needs at least 12 eurozone countries to ratify it before it can take effect – which is planned for at least the start of 2013. Five eurozone countries have ratified it - plus Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia and Romania.

DPA/DAPD/AFP/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:19 July 10, 2012 by JDee
If they allow the ESM it is the end for the rule of law in Germany. Weren't these instiutions founded to prevent there being another DDR or Nazi coup? Morally and legally, if they don't apply the rules then no one should feel obliged to pay taxes or respect the German government. In fact the correct moral decision may be to withhold paying taxes in order to bring a change in the political system.
14:28 July 10, 2012 by Leo Strauss
The Thin Red Line :)

@JDee

Good post.
17:23 July 10, 2012 by chicagolive
Some are you guys are daft, really look around Germany is only at this point because of the euro at the beginning they where the PIIGS rolled up in one. Germany openly said screw the rules and did what they wanted doing that time period now that others are doing the same as them the government crys foul. Many of you don't realize if deeper EU power intergration does not happen the problems will only keep manifesting deep and deeper and make it harder the next time(and their will be one very quickly)to manage and everybody will be screwed.
Today's headlines
Champions League
Bayern get lucky in Champs League draw
FC Barcelona' Sports Manager Andoni Zubizarreta draws FC Bayern Munich during the draw ceremony for the UEFA Champions League group stage on Thursday. Photo: DPA

Bayern get lucky in Champs League draw

2 hours ago

Bundesliga titans Bayern Munich were celebrating on Thursday evening after a Champions League draw that made them clear favourites in their group. Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach weren't so lucky.

Germans still love couch and TV in their free time
Sitting front of the TV - Germany's favourite pastime. Photo: DPA

Germans still love couch and TV in their free time

17 hours ago

A new study shows that Germans' best-loved activity is sitting in front of the idiot box - and when they're not doing that they're probably slumped in front of a computer.

This Week in History
The day that 'sealed East Germany's fate'
At 3am on August 23rd, MPs applauded as the People's Chamber set a date for reunification. Photo: DPA

The day that 'sealed East Germany's fate'

17 hours ago

After the Berlin Wall was destroyed in 1989, East and West Germany still had a long way to go before they could become one nation. But in August 1990, the date was finally set for the birth of reunified Germany.

Migrant crisis
Merkel: Austria tragedy a ‘warning’ for Europe
Forensic experts investigate a truck in which refugees were found dead as it stands by the Autobahn in Austria. Photo: DPA.

Merkel: Austria tragedy a ‘warning’ for Europe

17 hours ago

The "horrible" discovery on Thursday of between 20 and 50 dead migrants on a truck in Austria is a warning to Europe to get to grips with the migrant crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday. Other leading German politicians laid out their plans for handling the influx of refugees.

Facebook to meet gov on Internet hate-mongering
Are Facebook keeping a close enough eye on hate speech? Photo: DPA

Facebook to meet gov on Internet hate-mongering

23 hours ago

Update: Facebook on Thursday accepted an invitation from Germany's justice minister to discuss doing more to purge the social network of racist posts after widespread complaints from users.

Berlin orchestra angers Israel with Iran concert
Renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim is under attack by Israel's government. Photo: DPA

Berlin orchestra angers Israel with Iran concert

19 hours ago

Israeli-Argentinian conductor Daniel Barenboim is hoping to take one of Germany's top orchestras to Iran to perform a concert there, the Berlin State Opera said Thursday, drawing angry protests from Israel.

Netzpolitik Affair
Merkel's office 'hid knowledge of probe'
The Chancellery. Photo: Heinz Albers

Merkel's office 'hid knowledge of probe'

21 hours ago

After digital rights blog Netzpolitik revealed that state prosecutors were investigating two of its journalists for treason, Chancellor Angela Merkel's office reacted with shock. Now Spiegel reports that the Chancellery knew about the investigation in April.

Internet surveillance
Spies 'traded Germans' data for US software'
Photo: DPA

Spies 'traded Germans' data for US software'

21 hours ago

Media reports on Thursday alleged that German spies traded access to information about the country to the US National Security Agency (NSA) in exchange for surveillance software.

Man City snap up De Bruyne for €80 million
Kevin De Bruyne. Photo: DPA

Man City snap up De Bruyne for €80 million

1 day ago

Manchester City have signed one of the stars of last season's Bundesliga campaign. But he didn't come cheap.

NATO troops join in large German training exercise
NATO paratroopers training in Romania on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

NATO troops join in large German training exercise

1 day ago

More than 1,000 NATO paratroopers jumped from aircraft above Germany on Wednesday in one of the alliance's largest airborne training exercises in Europe since the Cold War ended, the US army said.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
Weekend of anti-refugee violence shocks Germany
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,072
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd