quinta-feira, 24 de outubro de 2013

FT escreve sobre influência do Tribunal Constitucional português. Portugal’s constitutional court threatens country’s bailout

FT escreve sobre influência do Tribunal Constitucional português

Artigo diz que as decisões do TC levantam questões sobre o confronto entre as Constituições nacionais e as políticas europeias.

As decisões do Tribunal Constitucional (TC) português não afectam apenas o desenvolvimento do plano de ajustamento nacional mas também levantam questões mais amplas sobre o confronto entre as Constituições dos países e as políticas europeias, considera o Financial Times (FT).

Para Mujtaba Rahman, analista do Eurasia Group ouvido pelo diário britânico, os tribunais constitucionais têm, em determinada altura, de avaliar as implicações das suas decisões na estabilidade de toda a zona euro.

Em Portugal, os juízes do Palácio Ratton já travaram várias normas propostas nos últimos 15 meses, obrigando o Governo a encontrar alternativas e reforçando os receios de novos chumbos no futuro. E é de esperar que o Presidente da República ainda envie para o TC medidas consideradas cruciais, escreve o FT.

Em causa estão 946 milhões de euros provenientes de cortes nos salários e 388 milhões de euros provenientes da redução de pensões. A isto soma-se o aumento do horário de trabalho na Função Pública.

O jornal recorda que Passos Coelho já disse que novos chumbos poderão implicar um segundo resgate mas, ainda assim, várias especialistas já deixaram o alerta sobre o risco de inconstitucionalidade de algumas medidas. Para Mujtaba Rahman, "não é exagero dizer" que o TC é "o maior impedimento" para a conclusão com sucesso do plano de ajustamento português.

O politólogo António Costa Pinto recorda ao FT que muitas constituições nacionais não foram criadas tendo em conta a moeda única: por isso, os efeitos que antes se conseguiam pela desvalorização do câmbio, agora têm de ser conseguidos por cortes dos salários ou de prestações sociais, que podem chocar com a Constituição.

Mujtaba Rahman, como outros analistas, defende que os países sob ajustamento têm de aceitar a perda de alguma autonomia política e constitucional.
October 24, 2013 7:48 am

 Portugal’s constitutional court threatens country’s bailout

Robed in black and accustomed to the quiet of their Lisbon chambers, the 13 judges of Portugal’s constitutional court have found themselves propelled unexpectedly into the cut and thrust of high European politics.

Defenders of the inviolability of national laws for some, enemies of reform to others, the seven men and six women have become critical to the success or failure of Portugal’s €78bn bailout programme and, by implication, the resolution of the eurozone crisis.

Besides the possibility of the judges derailing Portugal’s bailout by striking down measures crucial to next year’s tough austerity budget, the court’s recent interventions have raised wider questions over potential clashes between national constitutions and EU policy making.

“Constitutional courts in Portugal, Germany and elsewhere have to recognise that they are now part of a bigger conversation,” says Mujtaba Rahman, head of European analysis at the Eurasia Group risk consultancy. “On some level they have to factor in the implications of their decisions for the broad stability of the eurozone.”

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Portugal’s constitutional judges have overturned planned government measures in four separate rulings over the past 15 months, forcing the ruling centre-right coalition to draft alternative policies and raising concerns that the court could reject up to a third of the €3.9bn in spending cuts planned for next year.

Aníbal Cavaco Silva, Portugal’s president, is widely expected to send crucial budget measures to the court for vetting as soon as they come into force in January. At stake are €946m in planned cuts to public sector wages and a further €388m in reductions to state pension payments.

 A court ruling is also pending on an increase in public sector working hours from 35 to 40 hours a week, which came into effect in September.

 Pedro Passos Coelho, the prime minister, has issued indirect warnings that further interventions by the court could force Lisbon to seek a second bailout with tough conditions attached when the current rescue programme ends in June.

 But constitutional lawyers believe there is a strong likelihood that the judges could strike down some if not all of the measures, threatening deficit targets agreed with international lenders and shaking investor confidence as Lisbon seeks to regain access to international capital markets.

 “The court is a thorn in the side of the both government and Brussels and is perceived as almost communist by the markets,” says Mr Rahman. “It’s no exaggeration to say it’s the biggest impediment to the country’s clean exit from the bailout.”

 Ten of the judges are appointed by parliament and the three by the others judges. The court’s make-up generally reflects the parliamentary balance of power, but studies have shown that judges do not always vote along party lines. Nor do legal experts see any justification in claims that their rulings tend to defend their own generous pay and pension entitlements.

 In an internal EU briefing document leaked to the Portuguese media, Commission officials in Lisbon wrote this month that “political activism” by the court “could have very heavy consequences”, potentially leading to a second rescue programme and entailing “serious economic and social costs”.

Brussels has denied any attempt to influence the judges, saying the paper was a factual report on the issues involved and did not express an opinion. But opposition parties have condemned the commission for what the radical Left Bloc called “shameful pressure” on the court.

 Government opponents argue that the court is a critical guardian of the constitution that should not be influenced by the economic goals of national or European policy making.

 Meanwhile, analysts believe that all eurozone government have to take into account the wider concerns of Europe and that countries that depend on international creditors have to forfeit some of their policy autonomy.

 “This is a dilemma that so far only Portugal, Greece and Ireland have had to deal with, but which other countries may soon have to face,” says António Costa Pinto, a politics professor at Lisbon’s Institute of Social Sciences.

 “Most national constitutions were not made with a single currency in mind. What used to be achieved through national currency devaluations now has to be made through ‘international devaluations’ involving cuts in pay, welfare benefits and social provisions that may run foul of national constitutions.”

 Bailed-out eurozone governments, in particular, have to make trade-offs, says Mr Rahman of Eurasia Group. “Every domestic stakeholder will argue that the constitution is sacrosanct, but countries under an adjustment programme have to accept that they will lose some of their policy, political and constitutional autonomy.”

 Luís Pereira Coutinho, a law professor at Lisbon University, believes that in addition to interpreting the letter of the constitution, the court judges need to show “political sensitivity” to the wider economic and political concerns of Portugal and the eurozone.

“A country cannot expect to be successful over the long term,” he says, “if its constitutional framework and political culture do not harmonise with all the commitments involved in belonging to the euro.”

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