The German Constitutional Court has given free rein to the ratification of the European recovery fund by rejecting the emergency appeal presented against its approval. The highest legal body in the country left in the air on March 26 the implementation of the European plan of 750,000 million euros that the countries hardest hit by the pandemic urgently await. The Karlsruhe-based court then prevented German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier from signing the ratification to rule on an appeal filed by supporters of the German far-right who understood that the aid plan violates European treaties.
The decision of the German judges surprised the Twenty-seven by halting the processing of subsidies and loans that, in theory, should have started to flow from January 1 and from which Spain expects to obtain up to 140,000 million euros, almost half between credits and non-repayable aid. The legal dispute arose in the national process of ratification of the so-called Own Resources Decision, the EU legislative act that sets the income of the community club.
This decision must be unanimously approved by the Twenty-seven and ratified in all of them following the procedures established in each country, generally in the Parliaments. So far, 17 of the 27 EU countries have done so, including France, Italy and Spain. The delay of the signature in Germany, therefore, has not contributed to delaying the process in the EU, because there are countries that have not yet approved it. Poland is one of the biggest problems. Brussels cannot begin issuing the debt that will finance the fund until everyone has ratified the decision.
The court assures that it will study the law, but rejects the urgent request for suspension that had been raised. “Based on a summary examination, it does not seem likely that the court will find a violation” of the German constitution in the procedure, notes the highest jurisdiction of the country in a press release on its website. “The resulting disadvantages [de impedir la ratificación] they could turn out to be irreversible ”, he argues, because“ as a recovery instrument, the European fund has the specific objective of addressing the consequences of the pandemic and foresees measures that must be taken within a relatively short period of time ”. The court also refers to the fact that it must respect the “wide margin of appreciation and prognosis in the assessment of foreign policy issues” of the federal government and maintains that delaying the entry into force of the decision “would also imply a significant strain on foreign relations ”.
The lower house, or Bundestag, passed the law ratifying the fund on March 25. He came out with a majority of almost 75% of the votes. The next day the upper house, the Bundesrat, also gave the go-ahead to the legislation. Among those who oppose Germany ratifying the European fund, which has been symbolically christened the Next Generation EU, is the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The formation argues that the mechanism violates European treaties by allowing states to borrow jointly and has described German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “irresponsible” for allowing it. The appeal to the Karlsruhe court was presented by a citizen alliance created around one of the founders of AfD, the economist Bernd Lucke.
After the approval in the two legislative chambers, the only step that was missing for the German ratification of the mechanism that allows the EU to go out to the markets and get into debt was the signature of the president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who now, after the decision of the Constitutional, foreseeably it will take place in the next few hours.
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