The German Constitutional Court had to resolve on the constitutional conflicts in its country in relation to the extraordinary ECB debt purchase programs launched in 2015 to contain the risk premiums of countries such as Greece, Spain or Italy. The European Justice decided in December 2018 that the ECB’s programs were in line with its mandate. I mean, there was ultra vires, he was not exceeding his powers.
The German Constitutional Court this week has ruled that it does not see the ECB program as illegal, but he does question that it is within his powers, against the CJEU decision, and he gives the ECB three months to justify its 2015 decisions, under pain of ordering the Bundesbank to sell the purchased debt and to stop participating in the current debt program in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
The EU Court of Justice has already said this week that he is the last jurisdictional authority in the EU; and the ECB has confirmed that it will continue with its policies “without flinching.”
And what does the European Commission, guardian of the treaties, say? Well, the spokesman for the Community Executive, Eric Mamer, has stuck to the CJEU statement and the ECB’s statements. But his boss, the President of the Community Executive, Ursula von der Leyen, has gone further in the express response to a German green MEP, Sven Giogold, and it has opened the door to expedite Germany by the ruling of its Constitutional Court.
“I share your opinion that the recent ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court raises issues that affect the very core of European sovereignty. Issues that are important not only for the Union’s monetary policy, but also for the rule of law in the EU. I can assure you: EU monetary policy is a matter of exclusive competence, EU law takes precedence over national law and of course the judgments of the EU Court of Justice are binding on all national courts. The EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg always has the last word on EU law. I take this matter very seriously. The Commission is now in the process of analyzing in detail the Court’s more than 100-page judgment. German Federal Constitutional On the basis of these analyzes, we are considering possible next steps, including infringement procedures.
The European Union is a community of values and laws, which we will defend and defend at all times and in all directions. That is what holds us together. “
And how does the European Commission’s infringement procedure work? The process is not overnight, and it has several steps.
The procedure is developed following a series of stages provided for in the EU Treaties, culminating in the adoption of a formal decision:
The Commission sends a letter of formal notice requesting more information from the Member State, which has a certain period of time (usually two months) to send a detailed reply.
If the Commission concludes that the State is not meeting its obligations under EU law, it can send a reasoned opinion, that is, a formal request for compliance with that law— explaining why what you consider to be infringing Union law.
The Commission also urges the Member State to inform it of the measures taken, within a certain period of time (usually two months).
If the Member State maintains the breach, the Commission may choose to refer the matter to the Court of Justice. However, most issues are resolved before reaching this extreme.
When a Member State fails to communicate in time the measures by which it incorporates the provisions of a directive, the Commission can ask the Court of Justice to impose sanctions.
If the Court of Justice finds that a Member State has violated EU law, national authorities are obliged to take measures to comply with the Court’s judgment.
If, despite the judgment of the Court of Justice, the Member State still does not correct the situation, the Commission can refer the matter back to the Court.
When it refers the case back to the Court of Justice for the second time, the Commission proposes that it impose economic sanctions (consisting of a lump sum and / or daily fines).
Sanctions are calculated taking into account: the importance of the infringed rules and the repercussions of the infringement for the general and private interests the period during which the rule in question has not been applied, the capacity of the Member State to pay the sanctions, with in order to guarantee that these have a deterrent effect.
The Court of Justice can modify in its judgment the amount proposed by the Commission.