The EU expressed hope on Monday that a shock decision by Germany's Constitutional Court to halt ratification of a €750 billion coronavirus recovery fund would not delay it for long.

The European Commission, which designed the recovery fund, said it stood by its historic stimulus plan and insisted its "legality was in order".

The commission "remains confident" that the "court will decide swiftly" on the case, an EU spokesperson told reporters.

Following approval by both the upper and lower house of parliament in Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had been due to sign off on the fund to complete Germany's formal ratification process on Friday.

But five individuals filed a challenge, prompting the court to decide that the ratification "shall not be executed pending the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court on the temporary injunction application".

Ratification by member states would give Brussels new powers - known as "own resources" - to raise funds to repay pooled debt independently from the EU's national governments.

"It's crucial that the own resources decision is rapidly approved by all member states in particular in light of the challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the spokesperson said.

So far, 16 of the 27 member states have ratified the plan. 

The EU's goal is to have the approval process completed "by the end of the second quarter of this year" so that the first payments from the fund can begin, the spokesperson added.

Along with French President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel had sketched out the fund last year, which eventually was agreed by the EU's 27 members in December as part of a 1.8-trillion-euro budget up to 2027.

The move to offer loans and outright grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic, such as Italy, smashed long-held stereotypes of Germany as a "frugal" country staunchly opposed to taking responsibility for others' debt.

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