In evidenza

This article analyses the recent decision of the German Constitutional Court, where it considered that the PSPP (Public Sector Purchase Programme) adopted by the ECB (European Central Bank) was ultra vires. The author undertakes an in-depth analysis of the relationship between the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the constitutional courts of the Member States, also touching upon the fundamental principles of EU law underpinning such judicial cooperation, which is one of the main features of the Union’s judicial architecture. Such analysis leads to the conclusion that the German Constitutional Court misconstrued, inter alia, the principles of conferral and proportionality and threatened the very foundations of the EU legal order, of its integrity and autonomy, by replacing judicial cooperation with judicial confrontation and by ignoring the principle of equality of Member States before the Treaties and the principle of sincere cooperation between the Union and its Member States. Moreover, the decision of the German Constitutional Court defies the exclusive competences conferred to the ECJ by the Treaties, thus undermining the rule of law at the heart of the European Union. It also seriously endangers the independence of the ECB and the ESCB, including the Bundesbank, in performing their tasks in the field of monetary policy. Some final words are devoted to an assessment of the immediate consequences of the judgment, as well as possible ways to overcome it.

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The judgment of the German Constitutional Court was necessarily expected as such, but it had undergone a lengthy preparation: since its Maastricht and Lisbon Treaty judgements, the BVerfG had indeed laid the groundwork which enabled to unfold its reasoning it in Weiss. They are two: standing for appeal and arguments to put forward . Overall, one can indeed regret the decision’s weaknesses in reasoning, to the point of where the BVerfG falls into ultra vires. In terms of legal theory, the judgement puts a fundamental debate back on the agenda, namely monism v. pluralism.

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A few weeks ago, we published a proposal, in the form of a Position Paper, for the creation of a Mixed Chamber at the Court of Justice as a means, in part, of addressing the issues highlighted by the May 5th Weiss decision of the German Constitutional Court. This Chamber, to be composed of sitting members of the Court of Justice of the EU alongside judges of constitutional courts of the Member States, would have jurisdiction to solve, in last instance, conflicts of competence between the Union and its Member States. The full details may be found here in the original Position Paper (republished on CERIDAP.eu). The proposal has stirred a lively debate and produced constructive comments and critiques from colleagues and friends from many quarters. We are honored by the attention received and the best way to acknowledge our critics is by providing reasoned replies to their comments. We received two kinds of remarks: Macro and Micro. The Macro critiques target the proposal’s convenience and its general defects in the broad sense. These are principled critiques that deserve also a principled reply. At the Micro level we received detailed inquiries into specific aspects of the proposal, questioning a particular point here or there. We will address most of them accordingly. We will end with a more elaborate description of some of the procedural aspects of our Proposal which consider several of the comments we have been receiving.

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Dal punto di vista del diritto dell’Unione europea è la prima volta che il BVerfG mette in atto la sua minaccia di non attuare le decisioni della Corte di giustizia UE, già contenuta già in diverse sue precedenti sentenze e, in particolare, nella sua sentenza sul Trattato di Lisbona del 2009. L’argomentare dei giudici di Karlsruhe rivela, tuttavia, lacune e veri propri errori in diritto. Qui di seguito farò dunque riferimento, anzitutto, agli errori giuridici a mio parere più rilevanti (par. II). Dirò poi brevemente anche delle conseguenze delle violazioni del diritto UE da parte della Germania che la sentenza implica (par. III).

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The judgment of 5 May 2020 of the Zweiter Senat of the Bundesverfassungsgericht, to the extent that it expresses the German constitutional judge's claim to assess the legality of the ECB's decisions on the basis of the principles of attribution and proportionality, is more than questionable in point of law. Furthermore, it is extremely dangerous: and not only because it implies that the Zweiter Senat ultimately refuses, on the basis of the democratic principle and the control of the Union's competences, the uniformity of application of EU law. But also because it appears as the glaring demonstration of a form of “cultural bullying” many complain about, and which emerges in a crystal clear way in the reasoning carried out on proportionality. This is an attitude which, in the contingency caused by the COVID-19 emergency, could have truly tragic consequences for the future of the European Union.

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The reasoning of the German Constitutional Court judges to prohibit the Bundesbank from buying Sate securities on the secondary market if the ECB does not demonstrate within three months the proportionality of its decisions under the PSPP programme is not sustainable. Instead, the judges, who demonstrate unfounded intellectual arrogance in their claim to interpret EU law, make manifest errors in applying the principle of proportionality to the delimitation of competences between the Union and the Member States. They also make methodological errors in their application of the principle of proportionality to ECB decisions, while highlighting their prejudices in the field of monetary and economic policy.

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