Germany Vs the EU

The directors of the ‘European Project’ knew, as did we all, that a single currency could not last forever without a political union or at least a fiscal union where Berlin pays up for Sicily just as London pays up for Newcastle. But the member states never agreed to that. German chickens are coming home to roost

German_constitutional_court
German Constitutional Court
Timwork
Tim Hedges
On 21 May 2020 08:10

I don’t know what you have been wearing during lockdown, but de rigueur in my household, particularly for a long lunch, is the scarlet cape and pork pie hat of the German Constitutional Court.

It is based on the court dress of ancient Florence and we wear it out of admiration for people secure in their convictions and indifferent to what is going on outside.

The proper name of the court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, shows how exhilarating Scrabble must be in German.

The BVG is currently involved in a dispute with the European Central Bank and the European Court of Justice and for those of us suspicious of the EU there is much to amuse.

The BVG doesn’t like the bond buying measures taken either by Mario Draghi (‘whatever it takes’) or Christine Lagarde (the Covid measures) to stimulate the Eurozone economy. It has given the ECB until August to come up with a reason for its actions.

The ECB has said it has the approval of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), Europe’s top court, and the BVG has said the ECJ’s decision is ‘incomprehensible’.

Here is what Peter Huber,the BVG’s top judge, told the Times. Europe watchers are going to find it surprising, to say the least:

‘The ECJ attempt to have “limitless primacy” is not compatible with the German Constitution and implies the existence of a European state….There has not been a European state founded so far….the member states have always maintained and held that the EU has remained an organisation under international law and that the treaties are the basis. The member states are masters of the treaties.’

Well, he could have fooled me. There is a President (Ursula von der Leyen, a German), a President of the Council (a Belgian who doesn’t matter), a court, a central bank, an army, a border force, a flag and an anthem and a national day (9th May). If it looks like a duck…. But here is Mr Huber saying the EU is not a state.

I mentioned a while back in these pages that towards the end of the 1980s the bank I worked for got a request for a credit line from ‘The European Union’. We had to point out that no such thing existed. ‘Don’t be daft’ said their dealer, ‘we’ve got a building and a dealing room and they’re paying my salary’. The EU were quite illegally jumping the gun because they knew it was destined to happen.

Then remember 2005 when several countries voted against the new European Constitution. Jean Claude Juncker said of the French vote ‘If it is yes, we will say ‘on we go’, if it is a no, we will say ‘we continue’. They knew it was destined to happen.

When Mario Draghi said he would do whatever it takes to defend the euro some asked whether all this was legal. The European Court of Justiìce said it would be OK: it was destined to happen.

And now Herr Huber is saying the EU emperor has no clothes. He thought he was dressed in a treaty, he thought he was dressed in an elegant court judgment, but Huber says he is naked.

Huber says there is no state and the Central Bank can only do what its owners say it can do. But if there is no state, is there an army, a flag, an anthem? What do they mean? If the ECJ is not the final court of judgment, can other countries ignore its rulings? If the EU can’t help out Italy and Spain what will those, and other smaller countries, think? This is worse for the EU than Covid.

The European Commission has tried frantically to dismiss this attack, like the 13th century popes destroying the Cathar heresy. ‘The final word on EU law is always spoken in Luxembourg’, said Ursula von der Leyen, ‘Nowhere else’. But is she, a German, going to instigate proceedings against the BVG, the postwar guardians of her country’s constitution? Good luck with that, Uschi.

What has happened here is clear. The directors of the ‘European Project’ knew, as did we all, that a single currency could not last forever without a political union or at least a fiscal union where Berlin pays up for Sicily just as London pays up for Newcastle. But the member states never agreed to that. So the politicos reckoned they could get round the problem by giving permission for the Central Bank to do it.

Now Mr Huber says these latter day Emperors have nothing to cover their nakedness. Not even a red pork pie hat.  

Tim Hedges, The Commentator's Italy Correspondent, had a career in corporate finance before moving to Rome where he works as a freelancewriter, novelist, and farmer. You can read more of his articles about Italy here

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