Notes de l'Ifri Notes du Cerfa

The Karlsruhe Court Judgment: A Thunderclap from a Clear Sky? Notes du Cerfa, No. 155, Ifri, October 2020

In its judgment of 5 May 2020, the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe questioned the conditions under which the European Central Bank (ECB) had adopted a Public Sector Purchase Programme (PSPP), thus contradicting the position taken by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the same case.

This judgment had great resonance in the press and in business circles, as it could be seen as a challenge to the quantitative easing policies pursued by the European Central Bank, particularly at a time when it had to deal with the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

On a political plane, the German Constitutional Court decided not to comply with a decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union. Consequently, it is to be feared that the uniformity of the European Law is cast doubt on and that Member States opposed to the EU on topics relating to the respect of human rights will use that decision in their interest.

The Franco-German initiative to establish a European Economic Recovery Fund, which was announced on May 18, 2020 and on the basis of which the European Council reached an agreement on July 21, 2020, is therefore to be welcomed. Such a plan will allow the Member States to regain the upper hand in supporting the economy and the ECB to focus on more direct monetary objectives, according to the spirit of the EU's founding treaties.


David Capitant is Professor at the Sorbonne Law School (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ISJPS) and Director of the German Law Center of the research lab (UMR) of Comparative Law in Paris. He was President of the Franco-German University (2018-2020).


This publication is available in French: L’arrêt de la Cour de Karlsruhe : un coup de tonnerre dans un ciel serein ? (pdf)


European Central Bank European reconstruction plan European Union (EU) German economic policy German Federal Constitutional Court Quantitative Easing Europe France Germany