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EU launches proceedings over top German court’s ECB ruling

THE European Union launched proceedings against Germany today to assert the primacy of the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) over national judiciaries.

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled last year that a European Central Bank (ECB) bond-buying scheme did not break German law, but that the German government needed to demonstrate that it was a proportionate measure. If it did not, Germany would not be able to legally participate in the programme — aimed at financing the eurozone’s economic recovery — and would need to sell all its ECB bonds, which would have plunged the EU into financial crisis.

After the Bundestag had debated the proportionality of the bond-buying plans and the government had confirmed its satisfaction, the federal court backed off, making the confrontation academic.

But the EU says that by ruling on it at all, the federal court has undermined the principle that EU law takes precedence over the laws of member states. 

The European Commission has warned that Germany is “in violation of fundamental principles of EU law.” Berlin said it was aware of the EU’s attitude.


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