May 15, 2020 / 11:30 AM / 18 days ago

German court chief says ECB ruling does not concern new measures

FILE PHOTO: The European Central Bank logo. Frankfurt, Germany, January 23, 2020. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

BERLIN (Reuters) - A ruling by the German Constitutional Court last week that targeted the European Central Bank’s flagship stimulus programme is not an assessment of any policy measures under discussion now, the court’s president told broadcaster SWR.

The Karlsruhe court last week gave the ECB three months to justify bond buys under its flagship stimulus programme or lose the Bundesbank - Germany’s national central bank, and a member of the ECB - as a participant. It also called on the German parliament and government to challenge the ECB on the matter.

The ruling has blown up into a growing political crisis, which Chancellor Angela Merkel has sought to defuse, promising to act wisely in response to the decision and to use it as impetus to drive closer euro zone economic policy coordination.

The court president, Andreas Vosskuhle, struck a reasoned tone in his interview - just two days after another of the chamber’s judges said any legal action by the EU Union against Germany over the ruling would “weaken or endanger” the bloc.

Vosskuhle sounded more measured, saying “the fact that courts have different views is the norm in legal discourse.”

The EU’s top court — which had previously given its green light to the ECB scheme — and the European Commission, the European Union’s executive, said last week that EU law takes precedence over national regulations.

The Commission said on Sunday it could open a legal case against Germany over the constitutional court ruling.

Vosskuhle said the Karlsruhe court’s decision on “was probably only the provisional end point of a very long process”.

“It is not an assessment of mechanisms that are currently being discussed, but of the PSPP programme,” Vosskuhle said with regard to the ECB’s five-year old Public Sector Purchase Programme (PSPP).

Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Michelle Martin

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