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what hope of suing the troika over austerity? September 21, 2016

Posted by Bradley in : eu, financial regulation , trackback

In an article with the title Austerity-hit citizens allowed to sue troika, ECJ rules, which discusses the implications of the decision in Ledra Advertising v Commission and ECB (Judgment) [2016] EUECJ C-8/15 (20 September 2016), Nicole Sagener writes:

Green MEP Sven Giegold said it was a “breakthrough for the protection of fundamental rights”and announced that he would endeavour to support any citizens looking to seek compensation from the troika. Giegold added that people who have been affected in countries like Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus finally have legal means by which to have their cases heard.

The article does note some caveats expressed by Andreas Fischer-Lescano: it’s not a “blank check” and will only apply in “extreme cases.”
To me the decision is another example of the Court nodding in the direction of the protection of human rights while emphasizing that they are not absolute. The Court states (in para 70, but this is not new):

restrictions may be imposed on the exercise of the right to property, provided that the restrictions genuinely meet objectives of general interest and do not constitute, in relation to the aim pursued, a disproportionate and intolerable interference, impairing the very substance of the right guaranteed

The need to protect financial stability, the Court says, is an objective of general interest for the EU:

Indeed, financial services play a central role in the economy of the European Union. Banks and credit institutions are an essential source of funding for businesses that are active in the various markets. In addition, the banks are often interconnected and certain of their number operate internationally. That is why the failure of one or more banks is liable to spread rapidly to other banks, either in the Member State concerned or in other Member States. That is liable, in turn, to produce negative spill-over effects in other sectors of the economy…In view of the objective of ensuring the stability of the banking system in the euro area, and having regard to the imminent risk of financial losses to which depositors with the two banks concerned would have been exposed if the latter had failed, such measures do not constitute a disproportionate and intolerable interference impairing the very substance of the appellants’ right to property. Consequently, they cannot be regarded as unjustified restrictions on that right.

Imagining circumstances in which EU institutions stated they needed to take urgent action to protect financial stability and the court said that the action was an unjustified interference with fundamental rights is. I think, difficult.

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