Thursday

23rd May 2019

German MPs under pressure to get Lisbon law ready

German MPs are under pressure to get an accompanying law strengthening the role of both houses of parliament in EU decision-making wrapped up before general elections at the end of September.

The tight time frame follows a ruling by the country's constitutional court on Tuesday (30 June) in which it said the proposed Lisbon Treaty is in conformity with the German constitution but its ratification may only be completed once parliamentary oversight is boosted.

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

Berlin is aiming to get the process fully wrapped up with the law in place before Ireland votes for a second time on the Lisbon Treaty, expected to be on 2 October, and before the German parliament is dissolved for the general elections on 27 September.

An extraordinary session of the parliament has been called for 26 August where MPs are supposed to have the first reading of the new draft law. The second and third reading is expected to take place on 8 September while the upper house (Bundesrat) is to approve the law on 18 September.

Once this step is taken, president Horst Koehler can sign the Lisbon Treaty and the deeds can be handed in to Rome, fully completing ratification.

MPs, who voted overwhelmingly in support of the treaty last year, say this is a huge task for the small window of time they have.

"Normally we would need half a year for such a process," the Europe expert for the centre-right CDU/CSU parties, Michael Stuebgen, said. He added that the coming weeks would be "hard" as a whole new law has to be written, reports the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

A law on how the parliament should be involved in EU decision making when the Lisbon Treaty is in force had already been drawn up in anticipation of the treaty coming into force.

But the constitutional court said it was too weak, particularly highlighting the so-called 'passerelle' clause whereby EU leaders, when acting unanimously, can decide to move an area from unanimity to qualified majority voting. The law, drawn up by the German government, said MPs should be "informed" of any such move and outlines the cases in which the parliament can block the move.

But the proposed law does not foresee that either the Bundestag or the Bundesrat should have a say in principle on when the 'passerelle' clause should be used.

The parliament and the German government have already in the past clashed over the EU competences of the German assembly, with Berlin reluctant to have itself tied down on EU issues by MPs.

Now the parliament is set to draw up a law that would ensure that it would have to vote on any such changes through the 'passerelle' clause.

FAZ reports that a working group on the issue is to be founded as soon as possible, and it will also involve representation from the German regions (Länder).

Some MPs are less than keen to have the government involved. Parliament would rather do without "help with formulation from the government," said Mr Stuebgen.

"We had this [help] last time round and the legal text that emerged has now blown up in our faces."

The court called on the German parliament to have "responsibility for integration" with the assembly now to have a say over every step that goes beyond the Lisbon Treaty.

A comment piece in Die Zeit newspaper notes that the court ruling was a "clip around the ear" for the German parliament for failing to be more active rather than a criticism of the Lisbon Treaty.

Analysis

Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

Exclusive

Ombudsman backs EUobserver on MEP expenses

The European Parliament should have granted access to documents on a decision about how transparent MEPs should be in future with their office expenses, says EU Ombudsman.

EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

EU institutions want Facebook to relax its rules, to allow pan-European political groups to carry out EU-wide campaigns. Facebook has yet to implement the demands - posing questions on the extent to which Europe relies on the US tech firm.

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

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. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us