2nd Oct 2023

Future German presidency to revive EU constitution

The new German government plans to use its 2007 presidency of the EU to revive the ratification of the EU constitution, according to a coalition deal struck on Friday (11 November).

The coalition agreement, signed by the German christian democrat CDU and the social democrat SPD parties, should pave the way for a fresh "grand coalition" government led by CDU leader Angela Merkel to take office later this month.

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  • Angela Merkel - set to call for a quick adoption of the "early warning" clause (Photo: CDU)

The coalition deal revives plans for a ratification of the EU constitution, which was put on ice by EU leaders in June following a rejection of the new treaty by French and Dutch voters.

"We stand for the European constitutional treaty," the text reads, reiterating that the constitution makes the union more democratic, efficient and transparent.

For now, the CDU-SPD government will support the continuing ratification of the treaty by member states, and will strengthen the process more directly when it takes over the helm of the EU in January 2007, the parties proclaimed.

"We pledge to continue the ratification of the European constitutional treaty after the first half of 2006 and to give new impulses to [the ratification] under the German presidency in the first half of 2007," the deal reads.

Cherry picking

"Before the entering into force of the constitutional treaty" – which the parties clearly hope is still on the cards – the Merkel government also proposes to implement individual aspects of the treaty.

The CDU and SPD are calling for an "early warning system" clause in the constitution, which gives national parliaments the power to block EU legislation at an early stage, to be implemented irrespective of the possible adoption of the entire constitution.

The parties point out that "no treaty change is necessary" for such a move.

The "early warning mechanism" in the constitution, also referred to as the "yellow card", is aimed at boosting national parliamentarians' role in the union's decision-making.

It states that the European Commission, the bloc's executive, should review a legislative proposal, if at least one third of national parliaments send a "reasoned opinion" arguing that the proposal falls outside the commission's competencies.

REACH vote delayed by grand coalition

Meanwhile, the new coalition in Berlin has scored its first success on the Brussels stage, securing a delay of the vote on the major EU chemicals law called REACH.

The UK presidency on Thursday accepted Berlin’s request, according to press reports.

The coalition parties had said a new government would need more time to study the proposal, leading to a postponement of the vote originally scheduled for 28-29 November.

Germany has the biggest chemicals industry in Europe and has high stakes in securing the industry’s competitiveness in the face of the country's sluggish economy.

Environmental groups have said that delay could lead to a further watering down of the text to meet industry demands, Reuters reports.

REACH is designed to remove potentially toxic substances from circulation by getting industry to provide information on chemicals used in everyday products.

The European Parliament is set to vote on the proposal this week on the basis of a compromise text agreed by the body’s largest factions last week.

In the compromise, the centre-right EPP-ED group has secured a significant watering-down of earlier proposals which were widely seen as being pro-green.


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