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This paper takes as a point of departure a short essay, 'The Tyranny of Values', by the controversial German legal philosopher, Carl Schmitt.
The essay criticised the role of the all-powerful German constitutional court and pointed to the limits of law in times of crisis. It is of utmost relevance today owing to the growing importance of the court in the management of the Eurozone crisis.
The German constitutional court is embodying the fundamental conflict that the German ruling elites face in relation to Europe. If the European Union is to remain a community of law – which would best correspond with the deeply ingrained respect in post-war Germany for the Rechtstaat (the rule of law state) – it will be forced to adopt policies detrimental to the maintenance of the Eurozone.
If, on the other hand, European leaders follow the rationale proclaimed by the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, and do 'whatever it takes' they will undermine the EU as a community of law.
Either way, the crisis seriously challenges the underpinnings of German representative democracy as well as the legitimacy of the European project. The dream of post-national democracy for Europe threatens to turn into a nightmare of technocracy.
Since August 2013, Stefan Auer has been Associate Professor in European Studies at the University of Hong Kong in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. Concurrently, he holds the Jean Monnet Chair in EU Interdisciplinary Studies at La Trobe University, where he worked between 2006-2013. Before then, he was Lecturer (2001-6) and Academic Director (2004-5) of the Dublin European Institute, University College Dublin.