Squaring the circle: The Court of Justice, the Eurozone crisis and the renunciation of rational adjudication

Few decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU have provoked more diverse, and more critical, reactions than its three decisions on the constitutional foundations of European monetary union, Pringle, Gauweiler and Weiss. In spite of an extensive literature, there is no widely shared view on whether the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the ECB’s asset purchase programmes are permissible, as held by the Court. We therefore propose to test the decisions solely against the benchmarks of consistency and coherence and show that they meet neither benchmark. The article offers two tentative explanations for the failure of a court as experienced as the Court of Justice to deliver consistently and coherently reasoned judgments. The Court was constrained in its reasoning, first, by the threat of a judicial conflict with the German Federal Constitutional Court, and, second, by what can be called the incomplete and constitutionally rigid nature of monetary union.