The court still has to deliver a full ruling on the substance of the plaintiffs' complaints. But Vosskuhle made clear that his court's ruling on the calls for a temporary injunction — delivered after two months of deliberations — reflected the likely outcome of the case expected early next year.
"The examination showed that the laws that have been challenged with high probability do not violate the constitution," he said.
Still, he said Germany must get legal guarantees before ratification that the provisions of the ESM can't be interpreted in such a way that Germany's financial liability could be increased without the approval of Berlin.
Germany must also ensure that provisions in the ESM treaty demanding "professional secrecy" from fund employees don't stand in the way of the German Parliament being informed in full about fund decisions.
Wednesday's ruling was in line with previous rulings in which the Federal Constitutional Court has approved European political and financial integration, and eurozone rescue measures, while insisting that the German Parliament's right to have an early and thorough say on them be safeguarded.
Vosskuhle said it wasn't his court's job to decide on the "usefulness and sense" of measures approved by a large majority of German lawmakers.
"No one can say for sure what measures are actually the best for Germany and the future of our united Europe in the current crisis," he said. He insisted, however, that "only as a democratically legitimized community governed by the rule of law does Europe have a future."
In attaching strings to Germany's ratification, the court gave some satisfaction to the plaintiffs. Herta Daeumler-Gmelin, a former justice minister who represented some of them in court, said it was important that the court clearly set limits on German liablility and reaffirmed Parliament's right to have a say.
"I am not unhappy with this decision," she said.
David Rising and Geir Moulson contributed from Berlin.
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