EU legal action vs Germany would weaken the Union: German judge

FILE PHOTO: A man walks towards the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, July 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

BERLIN (Reuters) – European Union legal action against Germany over a ruling by the country’s top court that targeted the European Central Bank would “would weaken or endanger” the bloc in the long-run, one of Germany’s Constitutional Court judges told a newspaper.

Ursula von der Leyen, the EU executive’s president, raised the possibility of a lawsuit on Sunday over the constitutional court ruling last week which gave the ECB three months to justify bond purchases under its flagship euro zone stimulus programme or lose the Bundesbank as a participant.

Judge Peter Huber told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that “an infringement procedure would cause a considerable escalation, which could plunge Germany and other member states into a constitutional conflict that is difficult to resolve.”

“In the long term, this would weaken or endanger the European Union,” he said, adding that an infringement procedure “is by no means inevitable.”

EU officials said on Monday the European Commission was unlikely to take immediate legal action against Germany over a the ruling by the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

In a rebuke to the Karlsruhe court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, which gave the green light in 2018 to the ECB bond-buying scheme, said on Friday it alone had the power to decide whether EU bodies are breaching the bloc’s rules.

Describing the Karlsruhe ruling as “imperative”, Huber said he saw the verdict as “a dialectical process in which everyone takes the other seriously, engages with the other’s arguments, is prepared to learn and to correct themselves.”

“The ECJ (European Court of Justice), on the other hand, seems to have rather hierarchical ideas, in which dialectic does not play such a central role,” he added.

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Michelle Martin

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