German court stops fast-track euro crisis response panel

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Germany's top court Friday stopped a new fast-track committee appointed to approve emergency measures to tackle the eurozone crisis, saying only parliament had this power.

The Federal Constitutional Court in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe upheld the complaint of two parliamentary deputies filed this week to stop the nine-member body from taking any decisions on the European rescue fund.

The decision is temporary pending a definitive ruling by the tribunal.

The Bundestag lower house had only created the panel, comprised of members of all the parties in parliament, on Wednesday with the aim of allowing Germany, the eurozone's paymaster, to take quicker action to fight the crisis.

In particular, the committee would have been able to green-light decisions on the use of the 440-billion-euro ($624-billion) EFSF bailout fund for debt-wracked European nations, such as buying bonds or aiding threatened banks.

In early September, the Court gave parliament a bigger say in decisions on saving the euro. The decision raised concerns that it would slow Germany's reaction in crisis situations when speed is vital.

The head of the EFSF himself had insisted on Germany creating a rapid-response body to head off turmoil while markets await action.

But the Court said the panel could threaten parliament's sovereignty on budgetary issues, a "possible violation of the law" that could not be reversed if breached because Germany would have made "commitments that are binding under international law".

© 2011 AFP

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