• Case C-62/14 Gauweiler, Judgment of 16 June 2015 concerned the banking legislation that approved the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme by the European Central Bank, which was required to save the Euro area (‘Eurozone’) from the debt crisis.

Facts of Case C-62/14 Gauweiler, Judgment of 16 June 2015

  • Many brought forward constitutional actions regarding the OMT decisions, and the alleged failure of the German Cabinet and Government acting on those decisions
  • The Left Party of the German Parliament made an application for declaration that the German Government is under certain obligations in respect of OMT decisions
  • The Cs alleged the OMT decisions overall form an ultra vires act, not being covered by the ECB mandate and infringing Article 123 TFEU
  • Further, the decisions were claimed to be in breach of the democracy principle entrenched in German, thus impairing the constitutional identity of Germany
  • The German Federal Constitutional Court referred to the CJEU for preliminary ruling as to whether the OMT was compatible with EU law

Issues in Case C-62/14 Gauweiler, Judgment of 16 June 2015

  • Was the OMT compatible with EU law, or did it exceed the ECB mandate under Article 127 and violate Article 123 TFEU in respect of the prohibition of monetary financing?

Held by the European Court of Justice

Programme legal as long as guarantees made in press on the OMT conduct were upheld. It was compatible with Community law, and did not exceed the mandate nor infringe the prohibition of monetary financing.

Findings of the Court

Admissibility of preliminary ruling

  • The fact that the OMT programme had not yet been implemented was not a ground for denying a request for preliminary ruling to meet an objective need to resolve a case brought before the CJEU, “proceedings of the kind provided for in Article 267 TFEU, the interpretation of national law falls exclusively to the referring court” [28]

Principle of proportionality

Requires the “acts of the EU institutions be appropriate for attaining the legitimate objectives pursued by the legislation at issue and do not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives” [67]

  • In the current case, this was not infringed as a programme restricted can be adopted without a quantitative limit set before implementation which may have affected the programme’s effectiveness [88]
  • With the intention to rectify the conflict of a monetary policy, the programme concentrates on the area particularly affected without going beyond what is necessary  [89]
  • The programme “identifies the Member States whose bonds may be purchased on the basis of criteria linked to the objectives pursued and not by means of an arbitrary selection” [90]
  • Further, weighing up interests to prevent disadvantages arising, these were “manifestly disproportionate to the programme’s objectives” [91]

Article 123(1) TFEU

  • “prohibits the ECB and the central banks of the Member States from granting overdraft facilities or any other type of credit facility to public authorities and bodies of the Union and of Member States and from purchasing directly from them their debt instruments” [94]
  • Presently, as long as the programme was as the one in the press release, it excluded “the possibility of that programme being considered of such a kind as to lessen the impetus of the Member States to follow a sound budgetary policy.” [111]