Unacceptable judgment by German Federal Constitutional Court

Hans-Gert Pöttering: ‘We must not jeopardise the European rule-of-law community.’

Statement by Hans-Gert Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament and current President of the Former Members Association, on a German Federal Constitutional Court judgment in connection with a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on bond purchases by the European Central Bank (ECB):


The Federal Constitutional Court judgment is a time bomb, which, if it explodes, may destroy the European Union (EU). If it is no longer accepted that European law takes precedence over national law, the EU’s very foundations – and hence the European integration process itself – will be called into question. Should constitutional courts and governments in other EU states take their lead from Germany and decide that their domestic law and politico-legal rulings take precedence, then consistency of EU law will be no more. We can already see that countries which do not take the separation of powers seriously are absolutely delighted at the Federal Constitutional Court’s judgment, given that they dispute the ECJ’s right to monitor compliance with this principle in the Member States. In future, then, EU states might also call competition law or internal-market freedom of movement into question, with disastrous legal, political, psychological and economic implications for the EU’s continued existence. Ironically, this would harm Germany the most.

We must not jeopardise the European rule-of-law community. The European Commission – the ‘guardian of the Treaties’ – deserves our full backing in championing it.

But this certainly does not mean that the European Institutions should not be required to make a better case for their decisions; that goes for the ECB and the ECJ, too, for instance. But it also applies to the Federal Constitutional Court in respect of judgments that concern domestic law only, are open to criticism and yet still have to be complied with. ECJ judgments have the same due: they must also be observed.


Hans-Gert Pöttering,
President of the Former Members Association
Former President of the European Parliament