23rd Mar 2023

German top court declares €800bn EU recovery fund 'legal'

  • In a six-to-one ruling, the German Constitutional Court declared the EU's €800bn pandemic recovery fund 'legal' (Photo: German Constitutional Court)
Listen to article

In a six-to-one ruling on Tuesday (6 December), Germany's Constitutional Court declared the EU's €800bn pandemic recovery fund 'legal'.

The programme does not "blatantly transgress" the EU treaty, court vice-president Doris Koenig said in her ruling.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Although there is "serious doubt" the fund is legal under EU law, "it cannot be clearly ruled out" that it is not, the ruling said.

The legal challenge was brought by Bernd Lucke, co-founder of the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and Heinrich Weiss, a former head of the German industry lobby group, the BDI.

The complainants had demanded that Germany withdraw from the programme, or terminate it altogether, as it had no basis in EU law. But in a ruling of six-to-one, the challenge was thrown out. If their challenge had succeeded, and the court had ruled that the fund violated the German constitution, the case would have been referred to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

In his lone dissenting opinion, judge Peter Müller said the ruling "leaves all the relevant questions of EU law unanswered."

"To see the curtain down with nothing settled seems to me a rather ill-suited approach to the effective protection of the fundamental right of democracy," he wrote.

The ruling was hailed as a victory by green groups who have advocated for EU borrowing as a way to increase sustainable investment in Europe.

"We Greens welcome the judgment of the constitutional court," German MEP Rasmus Andresen tweeted shortly after the ruling was published. "Europe must be able to act economically during crises."

The so-called NextgenerationEU pandemic fund allowed the commission to borrow money and pass it on as a grant or cheap loan to member states to help restart the economy after the lockdowns.

A similar model has now been proposed to help EU member states deal with the energy crisis.

And ahead of a meeting of finance ministers on Tuesday, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and French finance minister Bruno Le Maire had both called for a similar fund, backed by EU borrowing, to help bolster the bloc's sustainable industries.

On Monday, German and Dutch finance ministers firmly rejected new EU borrowing, insisting on using existing financing tools first.

But Tuesday's ruling will likely feed into the debates on whether the EU should be allowed to take on new debt to help member states deal with current and future crises.


Hungary's funds showdown in focus This WEEK

On Tuesday, EU finance and economy ministers are expected to discuss a whole series of highly-political files, with one country tying it all together: Hungary. EU and Western Balkan leaders will also meet in Tirana.


Sweden waters down EU press-freedom law

Press-freedom groups from Paris to New York have voiced dismay at Sweden's proposal to weaken a landmark EU law against corporate and political bullies.

Top EU prosecutor wants elite corps of specialised investigators

Europe's top prosecutor Laura Kovesi wants to create an elite corps of highly-specialised financial fraud investigators. The demand came in Kovesi's introduction to the annual report published by the Luxembourg-based European Public Prosector's Office.


Why can't we stop marches glorifying Nazism on EU streets?

Every year, neo-Nazis come together to pay tribute to Nazi war criminals and their collaborators, from Benito Mussolini to Rudolf Hess, Ante Pavelić, Hristo Lukov, and of course Adolf Hitler, in events that have become rituals on the extreme-right calendar.

Latest News

  1. Sweden worried by EU visa-free deal with Venezuela
  2. Spain denies any responsibility in Melilla migrant deaths
  3. How much can we trust Russian opinion polls on the war?
  4. Banning PFAS 'forever chemicals' may take forever in Brussels
  5. EU Parliament joins court case against Hungary's anti-LGBTI law
  6. Three French MEPs to stay on election-observation blacklist
  7. Turkey's election — the Erdoğan vs Kılıçdaroğlu showdown
  8. When geopolitics trump human rights, we are all losers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality
  5. Promote UkraineInvitation to the National Demonstration in solidarity with Ukraine on 25.02.2023
  6. Azerbaijan Embassy9th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and 1st Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us