1. #1

    EU Commission threatened to sue Germany over EU law supremacy dispute.

    Something interesting going on behind the scenes in the EU:

    https://www.politico.eu/article/euro...ice-karlsruhe/

    Last year, Germany’s highest court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, ruled that the Court of Justice of the European Union had overstepped its bounds in granting the ECB carte blanche to undertake a controversial policy of buying member states’ debt, an emergency measure the bank implemented during Europe’s debt crises to keep the euro from collapsing.

    The German court (often referred to simply as “Karlsruhe” after the city where it’s based) ruled that the Bundesbank, the largest central bank in the euro area, could not be permitted to participate in the bond purchase programs unless the ECB could show they were really necessary.
    This needs some context:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intern...d_Futtermittel

    It references two famous court cases dealing with the question of who has the last word. The first ruling (Solange I) states "Provisionally, therefore, in the hypothetical case of a conflict between Community law and... the guarantees of fundamental rights in the Constitution... the guarantee of fundamental rights in the Constitution prevails as long as the competent organs of the Community have not removed the conflict of norms in accordance with the Treaty mechanism." while the second ruling (Solange II) revised the position as such:

    "In view of these developments, it must be held that, so long as the European Communities, and in particular the case law of the European Court, generally ensure an effective protection of fundamental rights as against the sovereign powers of the Communities which is to be regarded as substantially similar to the protection of fundamental rights required unconditionally by the Constitution, and in so far as they generally safeguard the essential content of fundamental rights, the Federal Constitutional Court will no longer exercise its jurisdiction to decide on the applicability of secondary Community legislation cited as the legal basis for any acts of German civil courts or authorities within the sovereign jurisdiction of the Federal Republic of Germany, and it will no longer review such legislation by the standard of the fundamental rights contained in the Constitution."

    In short: The German constitutional court has naturally assumed (as should every national court) that the last authority lies with the German national court, including the supervision of the international ECJ in Luxembourg and the only reason why it's not exercising said authority is because the ECJ has a working human rights framework to ensure just rulings. However, it retained the authority to supervise and rule on EU matters if it finds EU law to violate national constitutional war.

    It is a bit complicated in what exactly is going on, but this is such an interesting case popping up right now that it's a great starting point for people to get into how the EU works and how the relationship between the EU and member states work. the article is well worth reading.
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  2. #2
    Merely a Setback Sunseeker's Avatar
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    I'm not entirely familiar with how the EU's banks work, but wouldn't the ECB and the Bundesbank be two separate entities? So, the ECB could go about buying all the debt it wanted and the Bundesbank need not be involved?

    I'm not sure how a local court (the Bundesverfassungsgericht) could rule that a higher court (The EU Court of Justice) can overstep its bounds on a ruling on the ECB, that, from my limited knowledge, wouldn't seem to have any bearing on the German banks (other than I suppose allowing them to buy other members debts if they wanted to).

    Pardon my Americanisms, but to translate it sounds like a Federal court said a Federal bank can do a thing, and a State* court said a State bank can't. It's a pretty common occurrence over here, usually as an attempt to force a SCOTUS ruling (which more often than not does not rule in favor of the State). And yes, as the article continues on, so long as the German court is perceived to be powerful enough to overrule the ECJ, it will continue to be able to do so.

    As a member of a long-time federalized nation, this sort of tug-of-war between the higher and lower courts is normal and expected.

    *"State" in the US context, not to be confused with Nation State.
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  3. #3
    From this translation of the German ruling it seems like the Bundesverfassungsgericht advised the Bundesbank that a potential mismatch between the constitution and the ruling of the ECJ came to light. Consequently unless the EU brougth proof that these bonds are necessary the German constitution had to be amended before the bank could act on the ECJ ruling without violating the cobstitution.

    This is not about jurisdiction, but about German legislature not being clairvoyant.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Sunseeker View Post
    I'm not entirely familiar with how the EU's banks work, but wouldn't the ECB and the Bundesbank be two separate entities? So, the ECB could go about buying all the debt it wanted and the Bundesbank need not be involved?

    I'm not sure how a local court (the Bundesverfassungsgericht) could rule that a higher court (The EU Court of Justice) can overstep its bounds on a ruling on the ECB, that, from my limited knowledge, wouldn't seem to have any bearing on the German banks (other than I suppose allowing them to buy other members debts if they wanted to).

    Pardon my Americanisms, but to translate it sounds like a Federal court said a Federal bank can do a thing, and a State* court said a State bank can't. It's a pretty common occurrence over here, usually as an attempt to force a SCOTUS ruling (which more often than not does not rule in favor of the State). And yes, as the article continues on, so long as the German court is perceived to be powerful enough to overrule the ECJ, it will continue to be able to do so.

    As a member of a long-time federalized nation, this sort of tug-of-war between the higher and lower courts is normal and expected.

    *"State" in the US context, not to be confused with Nation State.
    So, the ECB is the Central Bank of the EU, think Federal Reserve. Germany's Central Bank (Bundesbank) is a member of the ECB (very much like Germany is a member of the EU). The issue is that since the EU doesn't levy taxes, the ECB doesn't generate money all by itself. It gets money to play around with from a pool that the national Central Banks pay into. If the German Central Bank was stopped from doing that (and the Constitutional Court absolutely has the authority to make such a ruling), the ECB would instantly lose a massive amount of cash to play around with. We can all imagine what kinds of problems that would create.

    The Constitutional Court is not "a local court". It is the Ultima Ratio, the last authority in Germany. It is part of the trias Judiciary-Executive-Legislative. And it is the one authority that has the power to overrule the Government and declare laws null and void if either one violate the German constitution. As far as courts go in Europe, each country's national "Supreme Court" equivalent has the same kind of power.

    This is the peculiarity of the EU not actually being a country. The ECJ is technically the actual supreme Court. But it is so only because the national "state Supreme Courts" grant it that authority, conditionally. In Germany's case that condition was laid out in two famous rulings (look up Solange I and Solange II) that stipulate the ECJ has the ultimate authority as long as it doesn't make Germany violate the German constitution.

    So, who has the last word? Weeell... it gets complicated. The answer is probably closest to being "The ECJ has the last word, until we say they fucked up, then we have the last word." Which isn't very helpful and in legal terms a pretty shite state of affairs, cos legal people like definitive, binary answers to basic questions like jurisdiction and final words.

    Now, the background and context of most of this is lost on international media, cos journalists are a class of retards that are too brain damaged to pick up a real job. But it's interesting to note that the German Constitutional Court doesn't actually seek to prevent the bond buying that is subject to these cases. It feels like they're more interested in picking this up as a precedence case to force the EU and Germany to hammer out these details and make sure the ambiguity is dealt with. I fully expect a new ruling at the end of this, which will be known in history as Solange III which phrases something like "As long as the ECJ court does not force Germany to break the German Constitution and as long as the EU trieaties respect the German constitutional constraints, we will continue to respect the ECJ's word as the ultima ratio on EU matters." or maybe it's a bold step to elevate the EU Treaties to a quasi constitutional level for Germany... it'll be interesting to follow.

    What I do not expect is Germany to actually be punished and/or the ECJ and the German Constitutional Court to end up in a face off that would inevitably and regrettably end with the Constitutional Court ordering the German Government to withdraw Germany from the EU on the basis that a membership would violate the German constitution. Which is absolutely a possibility, in legal terms. It's incredibly remote and absolutely fantastically improbable, but it's useful to know that the Constitutional Court has a warclub that the EU cannot compete with.

    And now you have a better insight into why we scoff when people from Britain talk about sovereignity. Or why we laugh when someone says the EU is a tyrannical dictatorship. No, it isn't. It really isn't. Not by a longshot. No tyrann or dictator ever had to ask anyone for permission for whatever it is they're doing. And that's a constant state for the EU (formalised and more efficient and not really asking, but you get the drift).
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