Legal threat to Germany's euro bailouts

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The Independent Online

Germany's highest court yesterday began hearing a series of appeals against the country's participation in economic bailouts for Greece and other ailing eurozone member states, which claimed that the measures were in flagrant breach of the constitution.

The challenge, headed by Joachim Starbatty, a Berlin economics professor and veteran anti-euro campaigner, was being heard by Germany's constitutional court in Karlsruhe amid growing public discontent over taxpayers' contributions to the Greek and other eurozone bailouts.

The plaintiffs claim that the rescue packages are in breach of the "no bailout" clause in the Maastricht treaty.

Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, said he had no doubt that Germany was right to participate.

"We are absolutely convinced we have done what is both right and necessary to secure our common currency," he said.

The court's verdict is expected in the autumn. Several legal experts have predicted that it will impose conditions such as giving parliament more say in bailouts.