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EU’s top court says German judges have no power to block ECB

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Under a cloud: European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt. Photo: Bloomberg

Under a cloud: European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt. Photo: Bloomberg

Bloomberg

Under a cloud: European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt. Photo: Bloomberg

The European Union’s top court has insisted it alone can rule on whether an act by an EU institution is contrary to EU law, in a rebuke aimed at judges in Germany.

On Tuesday judges in Germany’s constitutional court ruled that the European Central Bank (ECB) must justify its massive bond buying programme in order for Germany’s central bank to be allowed to participate, and the German judges dismissed an early verdict from the Court of Justice of the European Union allowing the programme.

Now, the European Court has insisted its decision stands and that it alone can decide on whether an EU institution, including the ECB is acting within EU law.

“In general, it is recalled that the Court of Justice has consistently held that a judgment in which the Court gives a preliminary ruling is binding on the national court for the purposes of the decision to be given in the main proceedings,” the European Court said in a statement.

Allowing national courts to determine such EU cases would “be liable to place in jeopardy the unity of the EU legal order”, Europe’s top court said.

“The Court of Justice alone – which was created for that purpose by the Member States – has jurisdiction to rule that an act of an EU institution is contrary to EU law.”

While the court in Luxembourg insisted it wasn’t responding to the specific decision by Germany’s top court, the institutions are now at logger heads leaving Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, in a legally difficult position, pending the outcome of a legal challenge to resolve the opposing decisions.

Online Editors