Stanley's blog

German parliamentary ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is assured in good time, but nevertheless Germany may prevent the new treaty coming into force on 1 January 2008. A contradiction? No.

According to the German daily newspaper Die Welt, Peter Gauweiler of the CSU and Left Party politicians are considering challenging the ratification before the country’s constitutional court.

After the parliamentary ratification (expected in May), German President Horst Kohler must sign off on the text. If the case has been commenced before then, the President will have to decide whether to sign off or wait for the court to decide.

In June 2005, Mr Kohler refused to sign off the German law approving the EU Constitutional Treaty as result of a case brought by Mr Gauweiler. The constitutional judge advised President Kohler to wait for the court’s decision.

The grounds for these challenges are that the EU Constitutional Treaty and now Reform Treaty remove too much power from the federal parliament.

Horst Kohler is in a difficult position as he will seek re-election in May 2009. To sign off would be politically dangerous, particularly if subsequently the Court decides against the treaty.

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  1. The grounds for the challenges of Mr. Gauweiler’s case – its receipt has been confirmed by Court – are not only that removing too much power from the federal parliament is considered unconstitutional. It is considered particularly unconstitutional because the power is transferred to EU institutions and procedures that do not conform to basic democracy principles such as layed down in Germany’s “basic law” constitution as indefeasible. These indefeasible principles are based upon the historic experience of how the Nazi regime once got rid of the legal democracy guarantees of the pre world war II Weimar constitution.

    I don’t think the signing of Mr. Köhler prior to a Court decision is an option. Of all consitutional bodies in Germany, the Constitutional Court enjoys the highest respect. I do not believe that Mr. Köhler would even consider to sign prior to a decision of the Court, besides, the Court could issue an injunction, an action that has also been submitted by Mr. Gauweiler.

    I can’t imagine that the Constitutional Court will allow the treaty to go through without additional guarantees concerning said principles, or perhaps additionally ordering a referendum if they arrive at the conclusion that the treaty has constitutional status replacing the basic law.

    Yes it is weird that neither the German government, parliament, nor the press seems to be informed about these facts.

  2. As I predicted, a spokesman of the German President Köhler has announced today that he will not sign ratification of the Lisbon treaty prior to a decision of Germany’s Constitutional Court. The Court had asked him to do so. According to German press reports, the Court will probably not decide this year.

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