An appeal by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti for governments to be bolder in tackling the euro crisis touched a raw nerve Monday in Germany - where politicians perceived it as an attack on the authority of their parliament.
Through a spokesman, Chancellor Angela Merkel retorted Germany had the right balance of authority between legislators and government.
Monti had told Monday's issue of the German news magazine Der Spiegel he was concerned about nations that backtracked on promises.
He said there were "a couple of nations - which are situated north of Germany - who, every time we reach a summit consensus, come back a day or two later and create doubt about the consensus."
"I can understand that they have to take account of their parliaments. But every nation of the European Union has got a parliament and a constitutional court. Obviously every government has to obey the decisions of parliament.
"But each government also has the duty to educate its parliament. If I had mechanically obeyed the expectations of my parliament, I could never have agreed to the decisions of the most recent Brussels summit."
Although Spiegel said Monti was talking about Finland, the remarks were interpreted as veiled criticism of Germany, where an opposition party, the hard-left Linke, and eurosceptics have gone to court to block the launch of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
They claim the super rescue fund for the eurozone undermines parliament. Snubbing a request from Berlin for urgency, the Constitutional Court is holding off a verdict until September 12.
Merkel's deputy spokesman, Georg Streiter, told reporters, "The chancellor's view is that we have always got along fine in Germany with the correct degree of support by parliament and the correct degree of parliamentary participation.
"And of course we have recently received advice from the constitutional court that the parliament must be granted more participation rather than less."
Germany's Bundestag parliament in Berlin has won increased authority in recent years through a series court decisions giving it a bigger say over the government's foreign and monetary policy.
Separately, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said there should be no tampering with the authority of parliament to supervise government decisions.
"We need a strengthening, not a weakening of democratic authority in Europe," he said.
Joachim Poss, a senior legislator among the opposition Social Democrats, assailed Monti in a newspaper interview, saying, "It looks like appreciation in Italy for parliaments has been weakened during the appalling Berlusconi years."
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