German Constitutional Council confuses Europe

Katharina Pistor, Peter Bofinger and Mark Schieritz sharply criticise the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court. They argue that the court seems to be insensitive to the political implications and appears economically ill-advised.




6. MAY 2020



For years, conservative German economists praised the German debt brake and the restrained spending policy of the German government. The European Treaties do not leave the member states much leeway when it comes to credit-financed fiscal policy, anyway. In the financial and euro crisis and also at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, it was thus the ECB’s expansive monetary policy that had to ensure that external shocks could be absorbed at least to some extent and that crisis countries were given access to relatively cheap money.

However, the BVerfG has now classified the purchase of government bonds as partially unconstitutional. With this in its reasoning unbalanced judgement, Germany’s highest court leaves behind some question marks, as Mark Schieritz explains in Die Zeit:

Mark Schieritz: Konfus, euroskeptisch, ökonomisch fragwürdig

Peter Bofinger comments on the Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling on the legality of the ECB’s bond purchases in an article on Makronom. The court, he believes, reveals an economic view that is as one-sided as it is limited, which will harm Europe and hence Germany. After all, the court’s decision means a considerable restriction of the monetary policy independence of the European Central Banks.

Peter Bofinger: Die Verfassungsrichter beschädigen die Unabhängigkeit der EZB

Katharina Pistor (Columbia Law School) also harshly criticizes the judgment of the BVerfG. With its decision, the BVerfG has become the ultimate arbiter of ECB decisions and thus clearly exceeded its own limits, Pistor judges. The decision is a major problem, especially for future progressive ideas on fiscal and monetary policy in the EU. The court, which would thus turn the rule of law in the EU upside down, is insensitive to the political implications of its decision and thus risks an end to the euro and even the EU, Pistor argues.

Katharina Pistor: Germany’s Constitutional Court Goes Rogue

The Judgement of the German Constitutional Court




The euro was planned during a period in which economic policy making was driven by a deep belief in market liberalism and the near impossibility of systemic financial crises. This belief has been brought into question since the euro crisis, which showed that panics do happen. New thinking needs to focus on developing mechanisms to protect eurozone countries from such panics and to foster economic convergence between members.