German court holds up parliament euro panel

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's highest court ruled Friday that a special new parliamentary committee set up to make quick decisions on the use of the eurozone rescue fund can't start work for now.

Germany's parliament has to endorse all decisions on using the €440 billion ($618 billion) European Financial Stability Facility, and the court ruling underlines fears that could be problematic in a fast-moving crisis.

The nine-member cross-party committee was set up earlier this week. With members drawn from parliament's full 41-member budget committee, it is meant to expedite decision-making in particularly urgent and sensitive cases.

However, the Federal Constitutional Court issued an injunction blocking it from starting work following a complaint from two opposition lawmakers, who argued that delegating decisions to the small panel would violate their rights as members of parliament.

The bar will remain in place until the court rules on their case. It wasn't immediately clear when a decision would come, but rulings from the court typically take several months.

The German parliament's involvement in decision-making stems from a ruling in early September in which the supreme court upheld Germany's participation in the EFSF but said lawmakers had to vet plans — though it left open how that should be done.

The two lawmakers who filed the latest complaint were Peter Danckert and Swen Schulz of the center-left Social Democrats. Danckert is a member of the budget committee but not of the new panel.

In issuing an injunction, the court said that their rights could be "irreversibly violated" if the committee made decisions on rescue measures but was later found to be unconstitutional.

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