Constitutional judge defends ECB ruling against criticism

ECB bond purchase program

Peter Huber (left), judge of the Second Senate at the Federal Constitutional Court, at the pronouncement of judgment in Karlsruhe.

(Photo: dpa)

Karlsruhe Federal Constitutional Court judge Peter Huber has defended the judgment on the billion-dollar government bond purchases by the European Central Bank (ECB). “We received applause from the wrong side, and the critics either did not understand the direction of the thrust or did not want to see it,” said the judge of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (Wednesday). Huber was the rapporteur responsible for the procedure.

Unlike in Poland or Hungary, the point is not to keep the European Court of Justice (ECJ) out of the control of the institutions. “So we want more ECJ, we want him to do his job better.”

In their judgment of May 5, the judges objected to the ECB’s purchase program and thus for the first time overruled a preliminary ruling by the ECJ. This had given his blessings to the purchases. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen therefore wants to investigate infringement proceedings against Germany.

Karlsruhe believes that the central bank is overstretching its monetary policy mandate and is actually pursuing economic policy. “This is not a violation of the legal community, but a resort to the legal boundaries that belong to this community,” said Huber. Von der Leyens theorem that European law always applies without any restrictions is “seen in this way, wrong”.

Huber said the judges of course saw the consequences. “It is not the case that we had fun making this decision.” But one could “not wait until another good weather period comes”. He warned against initiating infringement proceedings. That would “escalate the matter without the federal government being able to respond adequately”. “The most sensible thing would be to keep the ball flat and consider whether our judgment does not contain a few correct points.”

Huber made a similar statement in a second interview in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. It is very unusual for a constitutional judge to publicly justify a judgment.

More: Merkel sees a delicate situation due to the Karlsruhe ECB ruling.

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