Read the rest here.Whether or not Europe's monetary union survives in its current form, shrinks to a Carolingian core, or shatters, depends as much on abstruse legal arguments put forward on Tuesday in Germany's constitutional court as it does on the parallel drama unfolding on Greek streets.
If the eight judges in Karlsruhe rule that Europe's €500bn bail-out machinery breaches of Germany's Basic Law – or Grundgesetz – in any significant way, they risk knocking away the central prop beneath the debt edifice of Southern Europe.
The judges have distilled a plethora challenges to the Greek, Irish, and Portuguese bail-outs into three complaints. These include one by a group of professors who argue that the Greek loans subvert the Bundestag, violate the "no bail-out" clause of the Lisbon Treaty, and amount to the creation of a fiscal transfer union, by stealth, without the requisite changes in the German Grundgesetz, and "strike a blow at the constitutional foundations of our state and our society".
Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's finance minister, told the court on Tuesday that Greek bankruptcy would have set off epic contagion and triggered an even greater financial cataclysm than the US credit crunch.
The judges know the risks. They will bend a long way to find a formula that does not set off a banking collapse, or threaten Germany's strategic investment in post-war Europe. But will they bend enough to satisfy the bond markets when they issue their verdict, probably in September?Andreas Vosskuhle, the court's president, noted acidly that the hearings were not about the "future of Europe or the handling of the debt crisis". They are a matter of law.