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A few years ago I was at a transatlantic policy event in Washington, DC. It was the height of the Eurozone’s sovereign debt and banking crisis and there was palpable fear that that the Euro would crumble. If the ten year old currency union were brought to its knees, it would be the result of a near-fatal one-two-punch. The hard left-cross had been delivered by the profligate budgetary policies in the so-called “crisis countries.” And the match-ending right-handed uppercut had come in the form of Germany’s almost-genetic revulsion towards monetary solutions in the face of debt difficulties.
There was very real concern that Europe’s dreadful handling of the crisis might have devastating economic effects around the world. It was clear, however, that no proper conversation about the crisis could go forward without taking account of the role played by the German Federal Constitutional Court. This bordered on the bizarre for many of the Americans involved in the discussion. What does a domestic court have to do with European policy, many wondered. And for those more sensitive to judicial activism in general, it was a question of the propriety of any role for any court in such high-stakes and highly-technical matters. [continue reading here]