BERLIN: German leaders warned Monday against bypassing national parliaments in eurozone crisis-fighting after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti urged government chiefs to defend powers to take quick decisions.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said lawmakers had a crucial role to play that should not be undermined in times of turmoil.
"The parliamentary checks on European policy are beyond any debate," he said in a statement in response to Monti's remarks in Monday's issue of German news weekly Der Spiegel.
"We need a strengthening, not a weakening, of democratic legitimisation in Europe."
The parliamentary group leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc, Volker Kauder, said any European reforms that saw more power flow to Brussels must still respect the role of national legislatures.
"As a dyed-in-the-wool parliamentarian, I can only say that the rights of parliament or parliamentarianism must not be eliminated with a strengthening of executive institutions in Europe."
In an interview that prompted a fierce reaction among German deputies, Monti called on national leaders to maintain clear room for manoeuvre in relation to their national parliaments.
"If governments were to let themselves be bound completely by the decisions of their parliaments without maintaining their own scope for negotiation, Europe is more likely to break up than see closer integration," he warned.
In his statement, Westerwelle called the at times toxic tone of the debate about the eurozone debt crisis "dangerous" for European unity.
"Attempts to boost one's profile at home cannot be the force driving actions in any country in Europe, not in Germany either. The situation in Europe is too serious, there is too much in play," he said.
The Federal Constitutional Court has repeatedly reasserted parliament's right to have its voice heard in Germany's response to the debt crisis.
The tribunal is to rule on September 12 on legal challenges to the setting up of a permanent crisis-fighting fund -- the European Stability Mechanism -- as financial markets nervously await a decision.