May 6, 2020 / 2:28 PM / 22 days ago

France says ECB answers only to European Court of Justice

FILE PHOTO: French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire listens to French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe delivering a speech to present the French government's plan to unwind the country's coronavirus lockdown imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the National Assembly in Paris France, April 28, 2020. David Niviere/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said it was for the European Central Bank alone to judge what monetary policy was needed for the eurozone, responding on Wednesday to a German court ruling requiring the ECB to justify its bond purchases under its stimulus scheme.

Le Maire said the ECB’s independence was guaranteed by European treaties, which were overseen only by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

“(The ECB) makes its decisions independently and decides how to run its mandate under the exclusive oversight of the European Union Court of Justice,” he said in a statement.

Germany’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that the ECB must prove within three months that its purchases of government bonds were proportional, and that otherwise the Bundesbank would have to leave the scheme.

That ruling put it at loggerheads with the ECJ, the highest court in matters of European Union law, which cleared the bond-buying programme in 2018.

“Within the euro zone, we are all attached to the ECB’s independence, which allows it to fulfill its mission in an independent manner under the oversight of the European Court of Justice,” Le Maire said.

“The decision of the Karlsruhe Constitutional Court is not a factor of stability.”

The comments chimed with those of the governor of the Bank of France, who said the ECB would deliver on its mandate as interpreted by the ECJ.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Michel Rose; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Geert De Clercq and Kevin Liffey

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