#Eurozone's £1.25tn #coronavirus rescue scheme may be ILLEGAL, says expert

WITH the row over Boris Johnson's Internal Market Bill still raging after an admission it will breach international law, a Brussels-based expert has suggested the Eurozone's £1.25trillion coronavirus rescue scheme may also be illegal.

PUBLISHED: 08:00, Sun, Sep 20, 2020 | UPDATED: 13:02, Sun, Sep 20, 2020

The legislation, which would override some aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland, passed its second reading in the House of Commons last week. The EU is threatening legal action unless the bill is withdrawn at the end of the month, as critics seized on Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis's admission it would break international law if implemented.

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However, Pieter Cleppe, a Brussels-based research fellow with the think tank Property Rights Alliance, believes there are also serious questions to be asked about the legality of European Central Bank's €1.35trillion (£1.25tn) bond-buying scheme aimed at mitigating the impact of the pandemic.

Mr Cleppe was speaking after the European Central Bank's Governing Council confirmed it was continue its purchases under the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP).

He explained: "The ECB prints money, lends it to banks at artificially low rates, and then buys up government bonds from banks, instead of directly from governments, which would be outright illegal.

Coronavirus Ursula von der LeyenThe EU's coronavirus rescue plan could be illegal, said Pieter Cleppe (Image: GETTY)

UK Prime Minister Boris JohnsonUK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: Parliament TV)

"Technically, they claim it's legal, but of course this amounts to printing money to lend it to governments, so it violates the spirit of the ban on monetary financing.

"In a democracy, governments should be financed by parliaments, not by central banks."

The PEPP was launched earlier this year at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to keep borrowing costs down and stop the pandemic from turning into a sovereign debt crisis.

READ MORE: Will this EVER end? Brexit legal battle 'could last years'

Brandon LewisBrandon Lewis has admitted the bill breaches international law (Image: GETTY)

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The scheme is separate from the European Union's £677billion coronavirus rescue plan, which was ratified by the European Council summit in June.

Mr Cleppe is not the first to suggest the PEPP scheme exceeds the ECB's mandate.

Last month members of Germany's right-wing AfD party announced it was planning to sue the Bundestag over the PEPP's constitutionality.

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