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German ESM ruling: Foreign minister confident of treaty approval

Guido Westerwelle is pretty confident that the Constitutional Court will give its blessing to the permanent Eurozone bailout fund.

Guido Westerwelle said he expected the court in Karlsruhe to offer a
Guido Westerwelle said he expected the court in Karlsruhe to offer a "pro-European decision".
Image: Ronald Zak/AP

GERMANY’S FOREIGN MINISTER has expressed confidence that the country’s Constitutional Court will approve Germany’s participation in the European Stability Mechanism, the Eurozone’s new permanent bailout fund.

The court will rule this morning on a constitutional challenge which aims to stop Germany from ratifying the treaty, on the basis that the treaty would see Germany fund the operations of foreign governments – which would be contrary to the German constitution.

The case – taken by thousands of plaintiffs – also argues that the fund would mean irreversibly handing over German sovereignty to Europe, and hampering Germany’s ability to control its own domestic budget.

Guido Westerwelle said last night he expected a “pro-European decision from the Constitutional Court”. If he is wrong, the entire ESM project will grind to an immediate halt given how Germany is in line to contribute over a quarter of the fund’s total cash.

While the German government has expressed confidence that the court will play ball, most analysts believe today’s ruling will be a conditional “yes, but” – with the judges ordering a number of changes to the ESM treaty.

Former justice minister, Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, who is behind the ‘More Democracy’ initiative taking the case, said she expected the court to rule that “the red line has been crossed and parliament’s core budgetary power cannot simply be handed over to the EU Commission and banking institutions.”

Technically, the court will not actually rule on the constitutionality of either the ESM or the fiscal pact today – it will simply decide whether to grant temporary injunctions to prevent President Joachim Gauck from signing the legislation into law until a final ruling can be made.

But analysts believe the initial assessment will provide a very clear indication as to what the final ruling will look like. They see four possible scenarios: a clear-cut “yes”; a conditional “yes, but…”; a further delay or a clear-cut refusal.

Additional reporting by AFP

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Gavan Reilly

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