Tuesday

19th Jun 2018

EUobserved

That German court decision

  • 'Whatever it takes' (Photo: Valentina Pop)

There is a long-standing tradition in politics of only dealing with something when really necessary. Why put your hand in a political hornet’s nest now, when others, down the line, could do it instead? It's a tradition which amounts to not thinking now about problems that will arise later.

After all, that was the reasoning behind those who set up the single currency. It was a political project to, as far as Helmut Kohl, was concerned, stop future conflict. The detail, like proper political, economic, and monetary union to back up the currency, would follow. Somehow. Which is where we find ourselves (struggling) now.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

So maybe that is what is happening with the hugely significant ruling by the German constitutional court last week. The court referred a decision to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the European Central Bank’s (ECB's) never-been-used, save-the-eurozone bazooka. Also known as Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT).

At first light it seemed positive. The court had deferred, as it should, to the ECJ on a matter of EU law. And no EU politician wants to look too hard beyond that.

But the court also said that it found the OMT decision breaches EU law. And offered a clutch of conditions on how the EU court would have to interpret OMT in order for the German court to find it acceptable.

The ECJ is unlikely to oblige.

So what the German court has done is knocked a large chink in the ECB's psychological, and thus far, theoretical armour. The question that arises is whether it is really an effective tool if the Bundesbank cannot take part?

The thing is that markets, that capricious entity, have almost entirely ignored the ruling.

The relative silence has been punctuated only by the head-scratching by a few academics and analysts as to why.

For now, in any case, nothing really changes.

But any other wobbles in the eurozone and there could be a risk markets will ask whether they can believe ECB chief Mario Draghi when he promises to do "whatever it takes."

Which is why political changes in Italy should be watched very carefully indeed.

Yes, after just 10 months in office, Enrico Letta has thrown in the towel, ousted by the cente-left Matteo Renzi, mayor of Florence.

He is to be, at 39 years old, the youngest Italian PM ever. Rather ambitiously, Renzi has said he wants to stay in office until 2018 - several eternities in Italian politics.

Meanwhile, the country's economic problems remain the same - and each successive leader (now four since the start of the economic crisis in 2008) - only serves to highlight this fact.

GMOs

While the prevailing wind seems to be that the EU should do less, a showcase policy for this would be decisions on GMOs.

The middle of the week was clogged with headlines about how the European Commission is entitled to - and would likely - authorise the production of insect-resistant maize despite opposition from the vast majority of member states.

Explaining that the commission is abiding by the rules - it can take some decisions if there is no majority of states blocking it - is plainly not good enough. Could it be that after over a decade of indecision - the company first applied for authorisation in 2001 - that it is time to admit that this is not the way things should be done?

If there was ever case for an issue to be decided at national level - this was it.

Limbering up

MEPs are dusting off their boxing gloves and climbing into the ring. And it's all about what happens just after the May EU elections.

The Lisbon Treaty open the door somewhat to the European Parliament by noting that leaders must take into account the result of the elections when choosing a new president for the EU commission.

MEP are busy trying to wedge it open even further.

Member states should no longer have the sole right to send any old person off to Berlaymont - Germany's commissioner was reportedly given the post to get him off the domestic politcal scene - the European Parliament wants in on the action too.

As many members from their ranks as possible should be made commissioners, they argue. Perhaps as a consolation prize for disappointed Spitzenkandidaten ...

ECB overstepped its mandate, German top court says

The German constitutional court has said the ECB overstepped its mandate when promising to buy as many government bonds as necessary to stabilise the euro, but it referred the verdict to the EU's top judges.

Opinion

Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?

After a thorough analysis in cooperation with EU countries we have identified many regulatory restrictions that hamper innovation and investment in the retail sector.

EU asylum claims drop, Germany registers most

EU states, plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, registered 728,470 asylum applications last year, a 44 percent drop compared to 2016. Germany had the highest registrations at 222,560, followed by Italy and France.

Opinion

EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too

Non-citizens from Nigeria to Afghanistan get a binding 'vote' on whatever the EU's internal debates submit to them. They will vote with their feet on whether to keep trying their luck when faced with a new system.

Basque threat of 'second front' for independence

Last weekend some 175,000 people in the Basque country demanded a 'right to decide'. For some, it means more autonomy from Spain, others independence. "We want to open a second front within the Spanish state," says one Basque politician.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Audi CEO arrested over Dieselgate
  2. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  3. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform
  4. Merkel to meet Conte to find migration compromise
  5. Seehofer gives Merkel time to strike EU migration deal
  6. Schroeder and Sarkozy appear with Putin at World Cup
  7. Tennis champ and 'EU diplomat' claims immunity
  8. Italy threatens to ditch EU-Canada free trade deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Orban to EPP: turn 'Christian democratic' or face challenge
  2. Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?
  3. Tear gas bodes ill for Macedonia name deal
  4. EU asylum claims drop, Germany registers most
  5. EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too
  6. Basque threat of 'second front' for independence
  7. Progressive regulation needed now for 21st century finance
  8. Greece and Merkel's fate top This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us