Judges of the Federal Constitutional Court (archive image)
Photo: Uli Deck / picture alliance / dpa
The Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that Germany's participation in the EU's billion-euro Corona development fund is legal.
This was announced by the court in Karlsruhe.
The recovery program called "Next Generation EU" is intended to help EU countries to recover economically after the pandemic.
For the first time, the EU Commission is incurring large-scale debt.
It is about a volume of 750 billion euros.
The countries receive part of the money as grants that do not have to be repaid, the rest as loans.
By the end of 2058, the debts should be settled at the latest.
The largest sums go to particularly hard-hit countries such as Italy and Spain.
The money should flow, for example, into hydrogen research, climate-friendly mobility and a more digitally oriented education system.
The purchase of electric cars, buses and trains should also be promoted.
The grants for Germany are estimated at almost 26 billion euros net.
On the other hand, according to the Federal Court of Auditors, the Federal Republic is also the largest net contributor with an estimated around 65 billion euros.
The authority spoke of a "watershed for the European financial architecture" and warned of risks for the federal budget.
This is exactly where the plaintiffs come in: they fear that in the end Germany may have to foot the bill alone if states no longer meet their payment obligations.
It was said that there would be an incalculable spiral of debt for decades.
In addition, the program has no basis in the European treaties.
The plaintiffs demanded that Germany withdraw from the program or that it be terminated altogether.
The lawsuits are directed against the law with which the Bundestag approved German participation.
Out of five pending constitutional complaints, the Second Senate selected two for hearing in July of this year.
One of them comes from an "Alliance Citizens' Will" around the former AfD founder Bernd Lucke and is supported by almost 2,300 people.
The second was submitted by entrepreneur Heinrich Weiss.
Several CDU MPs in Karlsruhe had complained about the reconstruction fund, as well as the AfD parliamentary group.
During the court hearing, experts did not assume excessive burdens for Germany.
They put the annual additional expenditure at three to four billion euros.
That does not upset the federal budget, said a representative of the Federal Audit Office.
The experts are concerned that the program may not remain an isolated case and that the EU fiscal rules could be relaxed.
The federal government defended the joint borrowing for the EU's reconstruction fund.
Resolute joint action by the Member States was necessary in the situation at the time - spring 2020, which was characterized by the lockdown.
In April 2021, the constitutional judges enabled German participation in the summary proceedings.
Because a stop would have done a lot of damage economically and politically.
However, they warned even then that there might be a violation of the constitution.
This has now been examined in the main proceedings.
Az. 2 BvR 547/21
Az. 2 BvR 547/21