Wednesday 24 October 2012

European Stability Mechanism before the ECJ

Irish independent TD (MP) Thomas Pringle’s case against the European Stability Mechanism has reached the Court of Justice in Luxembourg, referred there for interpretation on 3 questions by the national court. The 3 questions, are:

(1) Whether the European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of 25th March 2011 [PDF] breaches the EU Treaties or general principles of EU law (i.e. is it valid law?);

(2) Whether Eurozone Member States are entitled to enter into extra-EU Treaties on the Euro, and if this infringes on the EU’s exclusive competence over the Euro; and

(3) If, should the European Council decision be ruled valid, Member States are only allowed to enter into (ratify) the ESM Treaty following its entry into force (1st January 2013)?

The case will be very important for 3 reasons. First, it will help decide if the stability mechanism is compatible with EU law; second, if non-EU treaties can be used to change the governance of the Eurozone or if the EU’s exclusive competence over the Euro means that the EU treaties would have to be changed; and third, the extent to which the European Council can amend the EU Treaties. All obviously important not just for solving the economic crisis, but for how the EU and the Eurozone is governed generally.

RTÉ has reported that all 27 of the court’s judges will sit on the panel for this case – an unprecedented for a case referred to the court by a national court. On the proceedings before the court, RTÉ reported:

“Michael Cush SC for Ireland said the ESM amendments were "fully compatible with the treaties".

He countered that the ESM "will not affect the union's exclusive competence regarding monetary policy for the euro area nor will it increase the limited competence that it has in respect of the coordination of the member states' economic policy."

Thomas Henze, a lawyer for the German government, said there was no indication of any infringement of EU law.

He countered Mr Rogers' assertion that the ESM should not have been ratified when the relevant treaty, the Fiscal Treaty, did not come into force until January.


After three hours and 30 minutes of questioning, the ECJ Judges asked legal representatives to stand over their statements.

Most of the questioning of the bench was focused on the oral statements from the European Commission and the European Counsel, although Mr Rogers was called to clarify and justify his arguments on several occasions.”
The ruling is expected by the end of the year in what could be a landmark judgment.

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