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EU takes legal action against Germany

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-11 09:33
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The European Commission has started legal action against Germany, claiming that a controversial national court ruling sets a "dangerous precedent" for the integrity of European Union law.

In May last year, the German Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the European Court of Justice, the bloc's top court, had exceeded its powers by backing the European Central Bank's bond-buying stimulus program to ease the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The German court later ruled that the bond-buying could proceed, but the EU regards the initial decision as a challenge to the supremacy of EU law.

The unprecedented legal procedure could eventually lead to huge fines for the bloc's most powerful member state, reported The Daily Telegraph. The German government now has two months to respond to a letter of formal notice from the commission, with possible solutions.

"EU law has primacy over national law," a spokesperson for the commission said in a statement. "All judgements by the European Court of Justice are binding for member states' authorities, including national courts.

"The German courts thereby deprived the judgment of the European Court of Justice of its legal effect in Germany, breaching the principle of the primacy of EU law."

The spokesman added that the decision by the German court was a "violation of fundamental principles of EU law" and constituted a "serious precedent" that could "threaten the integrity of Union law, and could open the way to Europe a la carte."

The statement said: "The European Union essence remains a community based on law, and the last word on new law is always spoken in Luxembourg."

Euronews reported that as Germany is the bloc's largest economy, its central bank withdrawing from the bond-buying program "would have led to the collapse of the crucial stimulus package and jeopardized the common currency's future".

The EU's legal action highlights anxiety in Brussels that such behavior could encourage other nations, such as Poland and Hungary, to act in similar ways, noted The Guardian. The Telegraph said the EU was engaged in "ongoing battles with Hungary and Poland over the rule of law", which could be undermined if the German decision were left unanswered.

Reuters reported that Poland has been "examined over the lack of separation of the judiciary, executive and legislative powers since 2017", and "one year later, the EU started a rule of law investigation against Hungary".

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