BERLIN (Reuters) - Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Wednesday he hoped Germany's Constitutional Court would pass judgment on the EU's bailout fund and fiscal pact before autumn, suggesting he expects the decision to take months rather than weeks.
Germany's top court agreed on Tuesday to examine complaints lodged against the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and fiscal compact but gave no date for the verdict.
Investors are closely watching the decision as a sign of whether Europe is getting on top of its debt crisis. Schaueble has said any significant delay in approving the tools would lead to financial market turbulence and erode confidence in the euro.
"I hope that they will decide earlier," Schaeuble told Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio, adding that he would not, however, put pressure on the court.
The head of the court, Andreas Vosskuhle, raised the possibility of a "very thorough summary review" which could take two to three months, but he stressed that was just one option facing the court.
Schaeuble said he was confident the court would rule that the ESM and fiscal compact were compatible with the constitution because the court has never ruled European treaties are against the constitution.
But when asked if he was calm about the court decision, Schaeuble said: "No. I think the economic situation is still very critical. We are in a tough situation. The danger that we will experience a serious economic downturn is not over yet."
(Reporting by Michelle Martin and Elisa Oddone; editing by Anna Willard)