“Germany’s highest court has ruled that the Lisbon Treaty is not fundamentally incompatible with the country’s constitution. However, it has called a halt to the ratification process until the German parliament changes a domestic law to strengthen the role of the country’s legislative bodies in implementing European Union laws.”
So reads the precis of a Spiegel story headlined “Germany Cannot Ratify Lisbon – Yet.”
With the process of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty hitting one speed bump after another, many would have expected that at least Germany would have given the treaty safe passage. However, an attempt by some German legislators to block its ratification has led to delays even in the European Union’s biggest country.
On Tuesday, Germany’s highest court rejected a petition by a group of around 50 lawmakers seeking to stop the treaty, with the judges arguing that the Lisbon Treaty is compatible with the country’s constitution, the so-called Basic Law. Nevertheless, the Federal Constitutional Court laid one final hurdle before it can be ratified: A domestic law must be changed in parliament.
According to the court, based in the western city of Karlsruhe, the law which regulates the German parliament’s involvement in the implementation of European law, needs to be strengthened before the ratification process can continue. The ruling applies to both parliament, the Bundestag, and Germany’s upper legislative chamber, the Bundesrat.
“The Basic Law says ‘yes’ to Lisbon, but demands a strengthening of the parliament’s responsibilities on a national level,” Andreas Vosskuhle, the presiding judge, said on Tuesday.
The piece goes on to detail the resistance to shifting power to Brussels that has been seen in Ireland, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
Not surprisingly, both European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Chancellor Angela Merkel have cast this ruling in a positive light, saying that it was a step toward ratification. Interestingly, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier — the primary challenger to Merkel in the September elections — was also on board and predicting ratification by no later than early next year.
They’re all likely right. Despite the opposition of a sizable bloc of lawmakers, Bertrand Benoit reports for the FT, the Bundestag has “already convened an extraordinary session in August for an initial review of the legislative amendments. Final approval should take place on September 8.” Passage will require two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament, however, and the opposition is counting on holding out until after the elections hoping to change the math.
A UPI report notes that opposition comes “mainly from the far-left party Die Linke” but nonetheless deems it “unlikely that a decision will be made before Sept. 27.” Despite negative language that this “delay only increases the insecurity linked to the Lisbon Treaty,” the piece acknowledges that 23 of the 27 EU states have already ratified and that Ireland and Poland looks to do so by the end of the year. That leaves the Czech Republic as the lone holdout.
James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.