Thursday

30th Jun 2022

EU referendum idea gains momentum in Germany

  • Westerwelle: latest addition to chorus of pro-referendum voices in Germany (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday (12 August) became the latest in a line of politicians calling for a referendum on handing over more powers to Brussels as part of a new EU constitution.

"I hope that we have a real European constitution and that there will also be a referendum on it," he told the Sunday edition of Germany's biggest-circulation newspaper, Bild.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The idea to hold a referendum on what Chancellor Angela Merkel sees as the only way out of the crisis - the formation of a true "political union" - has gained momentum in Germany.

"We need a political union. That means we have to give up further competencies to Europe, step by step, in an ongoing process," she told ARD public television earlier this month.

Politicians both in the ruling coalition and in the opposition in recent weeks have said this is the only way to legitimise new transfers of power to EU institutions, which would go beyond what the current German constitution allows.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble, from Merkel's own Christian-Democratic Union was the first to float the idea in June. He was followed by Bavarian Conservatives and now members of the liberal Free Democratic Party, Merkel's junior coalition member.

For his part, Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's CDU, on Sunday also said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag that there are "three [legal] areas where one must ask the German people about it [power transfers]."

Meanwhile, the leader of the centre-left SPD party, Sigmar Gabriel, last week said the only way out of the crisis is to pool debt and sovereignty.

He also endorsed a recent essay written by German philosopher Jurgen Habermas along with an economist and another SPD member, which called for a referendum and for giving the European Parliament more powers so that there is no "taxation without representation."

Leading German magazine Spiegel Online has outlined forward three scenarios for a possible referendum.

It said one option is a voluntary poll on changing the German charter. A second scenario is a referendum forced by German ratification of a new EU treaty on power transfers, while a final option is a pan-European referendum on EU treaty changes.

The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe is due to rule on 12 September on the legal compatibility with German law of the European pact on budget discipline - the "fiscal compact" - and the eurozone's permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.

In line with previous rulings, it is likely to ask for a bigger say for the German Parliament and point to the limits of the current German constitution as part of the eurozone architecture-in-the-making.

Merkel links federal election with Europe

Next year's federal elections in Germany will be about Europe, said Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has spent the past two years shaping the eurozone's answer to its debt crisis in the face of scepticism at home.

Merkel wants EU treaty convention by end of year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing for a new EU treaty convention by December, despite opposition from many countries, Der Spiegel reports. She is also revisiting the idea of the EU's top court being granted jurisdiction over national budgets.

MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship

Two MEPs have withdrawn their nominations from the MEPs Awards over the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis's participation as a sponsor — currently involved in an alleged bribery scandal in Greece.

EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Interpreters at the European Parliament are fed up with remote interpretation, citing auditory health issues given the poor quality of the online sessions.

Opinion

The euro — who's next?

Bulgaria's target date for joining the eurozone, 1 January 2024, seems elusive. The collapse of Kiril Petkov's government, likely fresh elections, with populists trying to score cheap points against the 'diktat of the eurocrats', might well delay accession.

News in Brief

  1. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  2. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit
  3. Russia urges Nato not to build bases in Sweden, Finland
  4. New president for European Committee of the Regions
  5. Gas flows from Spain to Morocco, after Western Sahara row
  6. BioNTech, Pfizer test 'universal' coronavirus vaccine
  7. UK sanctions second-richest Russian businessman
  8. Hungary permits emergency supervision of energy firms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  3. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  5. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers

Latest News

  1. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  2. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  3. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  4. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike
  5. EU's post-Covid billions flowing into black hole
  6. Nato expands and reinforces on Russian flank
  7. EU Commission says it cannot find messages with Pfizer CEO
  8. EU ministers sign off on climate laws amid German infighting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us