EU Court of Justice Decisions Binding Unconditionally?

Sven Giegold just reported on a fast answer to his letter to EU Commission President von der Leyen.

He is the leader of the Green Party in the European Parliament and does not agree with the recent decision of the German Constitutional Court on the PSPP program.

Von der Leyen approves of his position. She writes that “obviously” decisions of the EU Court of Justice are binding for Member States courts. And she says that the Commission is now reading the decision and is thinking about starting an infringement procedure.

I would recommend thinking real hard about starting such a fight.

It may be true that the Commission could win. Obviously the Court of Justice will not be specially inclined to approve of the idea that its own 2018 decision in the matter is, in the words of the German Constitutional Court, “not comprehensible and must be considered arbitrary from an objective perspective”.

Then what? Try to get Germany to comply with that, force the German Constitutional Court to obey? How is that supposed to work? Over financial sanctions under Article 260?

I also recall that this fight is about how much Germany is supposed to pay for other Member States, especially under the current coronavirus crisis circumstances. There is no way at all to force the German Parliament to come up with even one Euro for this effort. And there is no way to release German taxpayer funds without the approval of Parliament, necessary for each measure separately.

And the idea that the EU Court of Justice commands unconditional obedience from all Member States courts is “obviously” wrong, at least as Germany is concerned. Under the German Constitution, there are some basic values that can not be compromised under any circumstances (Article 79). And under Article 4, Paragraph 2 of the Treaty on the European Union, these basic values command respect from the EU institutions.

Any EU institution leaving that premise will find it difficult to get support in Germany. That includes the Court of Justice, who like the Commission is bound by this guarantee.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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