Sven Giegold

EU infringement proceedings/ECB ruling: Appropriate way to resolve the legal conflict

Tomorrow, 9 June, the EU Commission will officially pave the way to an infringement procedure against Germany. In May last year, I had demanded such an infringement procedure from EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after the German Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling on the ECB’s bond purchases. She then promised me that she would consider initiating infringement proceedings.

MEP Sven Giegold, spokesperson of the German Greens in the European Parliament, comments:

“The infringement procedure is the appropriate way to resolve this legal conflict. It is about safeguarding the European legal community. If other national supreme courts were to follow the German example and enter into a competition with the European Court of Justice, the European legal order would become a patchwork of national exceptions. The infringement proceedings are not a punishment for Germany, but serve to settle the dispute between the courts. Legal clarity can now be achieved. The European legal community is the foundation of European Integration. Without common jurisprudence, common policy does not work. Large and small member states must be treated equally in the EU’s defence of the rule of law. National defensive reflexes are inappropriate in Germany just as they are inappropriate elsewhere. The ruling from Karlsruhe at the time was a dangerous gift to right-wing populist governments. If a supposedly bad justification by the ECB is already considered an ultra vires case, then Hungary and Poland get a powerful instrument against EU law.”


On 5 May 2020, the German Constitutional Court ruled that the ECB had acted partly ultra vires, i.e. outside its sphere of competence as defined in the European Treaties, with its bond-buying programme PSPP. Likewise, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) had acted partially ultra vires when it previously confirmed the legality of the ECB’s decision on the PSPP. This was justified with an insufficient proportionality test by the ECB. The German Federal Constitutional Court thus overrode the ECJ on a question of European law. This was seen by many observers as a serious attack on the European legal community.

My letter to Commission President von der Leyen on 9 May 2020 (in German):

Her response on the same day (in German):

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Category: Economy & Finance, Uncategorized

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