Monday

22nd Apr 2019

German court deals blow to Berlin's EU constitution plans

  • Will the ratification process be finished in Germany? (Photo: EUobserver)

Germany's plans to put the EU constitution back on track early next year have been dealt a blow by the country's constitutional court in Karlsruhe.

The court on Tuesday (31 October) said it would not rule on whether the EU charter was compatible with the German constitution until after a final decision had been taken on the overall fate of the document, which has been on political ice since it was rejected by French and Dutch voters last year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

German constitutional judge Siegfried Bros, who is dealing with the EU constitution, said that a decision on the issue was "currently not a priority."

He added, according to German daily Die Welt, that as the EU constitutional process is still under discussion since the two 'no' referendums last year, the issue is not urgent.

Should the text stay as it is, said Mr Bros, he would "resume work on the constitutional complaint" adding "there is definitely sufficient time" to deal with the issue before 2009.

Setback for Merkel

The statements are a setback for Chancellor Angela Merkel who had recently put the EU constitution back on the bloc's political agenda by outlining a roadmap under which the document would be on its political feet by the European elections in mid 2009.

Berlin had been hoping for a decision by the federal constitutional court in early 2007 which would have coincided with the country's six-month stint at the EU helm.

Instead, Mrs Merkel will be leading the constitutional revival efforts although Germany has not yet technically finished ratification.

The German parliament ratified the constitution by an overwhelming majority in 2005 (569 of 603 votes) but president Horst Koehler refused to sign off the ratification process until the federal court had taken a decision on a complaint by centre-right MP Peter Gauweiler that the EU treaty was taking too much power from the national parliament.

The MP filed a legal complaint in 2005 that the EU constitution will take power away from the German parliament. He argued it oversteps the boundaries that the German constitution provides for the integration of state institutions in the EU. He also said that the German parliament cannot give more rights to the EU than it has itself.

Hailing the court's decision on Tuesday, Mr Gauweiler said "the EU constitution has in all probability also failed in Germany."

Second ratification?

Currently 14 member states have passed the EU charter which needs all 25 member states to ratify it before it can come into force.

With Germany and France making statements on the constitution, the issue has slowly moved up the political agenda once more.

However, each new pronouncement raises as many questions as it does answers. France's Nicolas Sarkozy recently suggested the constitution should be pared down to a mini treaty, raising questions for those who have already ratified the document.

Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet told the Irish Times that countries that have already ratified the constitution should not have to ratify a second version of the document.

"For the future, our first preference is that we should avoid the situation that all those (...) countries have to ratify 'Constitutional Treaty Volume II' or something like this," he said according to Thursday's newspaper.

Lobby register transparency talks collapse

Efforts to set up a better transparency register for lobbyists have collapsed after two years of talks. The impasse revolves around the European Commission's insistence that the register also become mandatory for the European Parliament and Council.

Exclusive

EU bodies dodge questions on secret VW loan report

The European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have refused to answer detailed questions about the demand from the European Ombudsman to publish an Olaf report on a €400m EIB loan Volkswagen Group (VW) received through deception.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us