Tuesday

22nd Aug 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Analysis

Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue

Fico convinced the EU commission chief to take action in the perceived problem of discriminatory food practices, even though the evidence for the phenomenon is anecdotal.

Opinion

Setting course for strong and focused EU

From strengthening the internal market to completing the energy union, the prime ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland set out their vision for the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference