German judges refer ECB's bond-buying to European Court

Fri Feb 7, 2014 9:32am EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Norbert Demuth

KARLSRUHE, Germany (Reuters) - Germany's Constitutional Court will refer a complaint against the European Central Bank's flagship bond-buying plan to the European Court, removing the prospect of it curbing the program.

The court said on Friday there was good reason to think the scheme "exceeds the European Central Bank's monetary policy mandate and thus infringes the powers of the member states, and that it violates the prohibition of monetary financing of the budget".

However, it said in a statement that it "also considers it possible that if the OMT decision were interpreted restrictively" it could conform with the law.

Legally, the German court has to offer its own preliminary interpretation of the case to the European Court. It in turn will use that interpretation as the initial basis for evaluation.

The ECB's Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) program, announced by ECB President Mario Draught in September 2012 at the height of the sovereign debt crisis and as yet unused, is widely credited with stabilizing the euro.

Any potential curb on it would alarm investors.

The OMT's power lies in its promise of potentially unlimited sovereign bond purchases - a prospect that provided the necessary backstop to calm fears the euro would fall apart.

The euro fell to a session low against the dollar in response while German government bond futures rose to day's highs and Italian bond yields reversed earlier falls, suggesting some disquiet about the court's decision.   Continued...

 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble address the media during a presentation of a 2 euro coin in Berlin February 7, 2014. Germany's Constitutional Court will refer a complaint against the European Central Bank's flagship bond-buying scheme to the European Court of Justice, removing the prospect of it curbing the programme. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz