Joachim Fritz-Vannahme
15. May 2020

Christine #Lagarde writes a letter to Angela #Merkel

Dear Angela,

oh, là, là, these lawyers (I’m one myself), they are nothing but unnecessary trouble. But I don’t let myself be annoyed and you, as far as I know you, certainly don’t either.

I am writing you a letter from woman to woman, very old-fashioned, with a fountain pen and not via mail. For, of course, I take the whole matter with the judgement seriously, that’s what the judges in Karlsruhe did. That much must be allowed. But nothing more!

And certainly no false catastrophism, such as Martin Wolf’s recent flourishing in the FT, “It is an attack on basic economics, the central bank’s integrity, its independence and the legal order of the EU.” That reads almost like the downfall of the West. Dear Martin, he’s exaggerating in his anger…

The ECJ may speak for itself and the Bundestag may do so, too

I can guess how the European Court of Justice will react to the ruling of the Second Senate of the #Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) (ruling of 5 May 2020, 2 BvR 859/15, 2 BvR 980/16, 2 BvR 2006/15, 2 BvR 1651/15), but I do not have to comment on this. They can well do that in Luxembourg.

And the German Federal Bank, like the Bundestag, is mature enough to speak for itself after this slap in the face by the Karlsruhe schoolmasters.

I just wanted to let you know that the # does not take instructions from anybody, that is what Art. 282-284 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union say and that is how I run this House.

I would like to invite you to our Council meeting in July

Since you are taking over the Presidency of the European Council from July onwards, I would like to invite you already now most cordially to attend our first Council meeting in July (presumably via videoconference) with reference to Article 284 (1) (“The President of the Council and a Member of the Commission may participate, without having the right to vote, (!) in meetings of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank.”)

I will also suggest to Ursula that she should come to Frankfurt on the same occasion or join in, but perhaps she will commission her vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis, that is, of course, entirely up to her.

You will have received documentation from my staff in good time before this date, which, as requested, is within the three-month deadline of the Karlsruhe judges. This will contain all our considerations regarding the risks and side-effects of the government bond purchase programme from previous years. After all, there have been such risks and side-effects, even if nobody in Karlsruhe has apparently noticed it.

Of course, we have racked our brains over the consequences

Of course, the Council of the ECB has, on more than one occasion, racked its brains over the economic consequences of our monetary policy, both in Mario’s and in my term of office.

However, these risks and side effects are not the core of our business. This is, after all, the “primary objective of price stability” which we are supposed to maintain (Article 282 TFEU). Only then is it incumbent on the ECB to “support the general economic policies in the Union” in order “to contribute to the achievement of its objectives”.

Should the people of Karlsruhe have secretly asked us to overstretch our mandate, whatever it takes? I dare not believe it!

Should Karlsruhe really be asking us to overstretch our mandate?

With the best will in the world, I cannot understand where we would have tried such an overstretch in our buyout program (which, incidentally, the judges expressly did not criticize).

In short, I would like to co-operate with you to get rid of the whole annoying matter.

I’m not naive, it will probably soon be one of the usual suspects in your country who will also bring our actions in the biggest crisis since World War II to the Karlsruhe court. That’s the way it is in a democracy. I can only hope that wisdom will then pave the way and not the soupçon.


Best wishes, stay healthy, we’ll manage!



P.S.: This fictitious letter reflects only the views and insights of its author!


Photo by Charlotte Venema on Unsplash

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