by N. Peter Kamer
Europhiles and other ardent supporters of the EU have reacted with horror and disbelief at the ruling of the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe that the European Central Bank’s bond buying programme failed a ‘proportionality test’ by not taking into account its broad economic effect. The court also stated that the European Court of Justice had been acting beyond its authority, when it declared the ECB bond buying legal. The EU view, expressed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, is that the ECJ is the higher court and outranks Karlsruhe.
If the EU responds as Von der Leyen threatened, with an infringement proceeding against Germany, the dispute between the ECJ and Karlsruhe would be arbitrated by the ECJ itself. That would completely undermine the moral force of its ruling. It is also nearly unthinkable the European Commission is going to sue the German government for a ruling by a national court. In a modern democracy, is not the judiciary independent from the two other powers according to the ‘trias politica’, Montesquieu’s system of separation of powers ? Isn’t this exactly the reason for the Commission’s infringement case against the current Polish government who want to influence the country’s courts? It seems that the Commission employs two opposite standards for infringement.
For Germans, the constitutional court is the most respected institution in the country, together with the Bundesbank, the German central bank. For the EU to humble the most important pillar of Germany’s post-war stability would invite a public backlash. The EU can survive a Brexit, but without Germany there would be no EU.