The German parliament had barely approved the permanent euro rescue fund and the fiscal pact on Friday when opponents of the measures filed requests for a temporary injunction with the German constitutional court. On Monday, the court announced it will hear the complaints on July 10.
The plaintiffs, who oppose Germany transferring more power to European institutions, are trying to obtain a temporary injunction against the two laws to stop them entering into force until the court has addressed the main complaints against the measures at a later date and ruled whether the laws in question are constitutional. It is highly unusual for the court to hold a hearing on requests for a temporary injunction. The fact that it is doing so is regarded as a sign of the importance of the issue.
In the runup to Friday's vote, the Karlsruhe-based court had asked German President Joachim Gauck to refrain from signing the laws into force until it had decided on the requests for a temporary injunction. That has already delayed the start of the permanent rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, which was supposed to enter into operation on July 1. If the court grants a temporary injunction, it would push the start date back even futher.
Several complaints were filed with the court late on Friday after the measures were passed in the two houses of the German parliament, the Bundestag and Bundesrat. Among the plaintiffs are the parliamentary group of the left-wing Left Party, the conservative Bavarian politician Peter Gauweiler and an association called "More Democracy" which has 12,000 co-plaintiffs. Gauweiler even dispatched a courier around midnight on Friday to personally deliver his request to Karlsruhe.
Although the passage of the two measures in the parliament was seen as a victory for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it came at a high price. The opposition center-left Social Democrats and Greens demanded that Merkel support a growth pact for Europe to complement the fiscal pact on budgetary discipline, one of the cornerstones of the chancellor's strategy to fight the euro crisis. In addition, Merkel had to make concessions to Italy and Spain at last week's European Union summit in Brussels, which have earned her criticism from within her own center-right camp.