Key German judge backs EU budget vetting powers

German Constitutional Court.jpg

The German constitution does not rule out giving an EU financial commissioner the power to ensure states stick to savings targets in their national budgets, the head of the Germany's top court said on Wednesday (27 February).

"At first sight I would say that could work," Andreas Voßkuhle, president of Germany's Constitutional Court, said in Berlin. "Because parliament would retain the right to make decisions."

The court in the southwestern town of Karlsruhe is a powerful institution which last year held the fate of the eurozone crisis in its hands when it delayed German ratification of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the eurozone's permanent bailout fund, for months.

Voßkuhle said the constitutional court would, however, keep a very close watch on when the European unification process crosses red lines such as if Germany's Bundestag lower house of parliament's budgetary powers were handed to Brussels.

"It will be more difficult to make big steps towards integration," he said.

In a series of rulings on EU integration under Voßkuhle, the Constitutional Court has demanded a bigger say for parliament, delaying but stopping short of blocking German Chancellor Angela Merkel's policies becoming law.

Voßkuhle rejected accusations that the Constitutional Court is against the development towards a federal European state and said from the court's perspective it was simply important that this process did not take place secretly using salami tactics.

"Our citizens have not been told the plain truth. That is not good," he said.

In Germany any criticism of integration measures is immediately deemed to be "anti-European", he said, adding that this needed to stop.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a long-time advocate of closer EU integration, last year said Europe needed a new commissioner with power over budgets and reform of European Parliament decision-making.

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