German parties green light EU law

19th August 2009, Comments 1 comment

Germany's top court ruled in June that the Lisbon Treaty -- aimed at streamlining decision-making in the 27-nation EU -- must be put on ice until legislation guarding national parliamentary powers was passed.

Berlin -- Germany's ruling parties on Tuesday sealed a deal on legislation that will allow Berlin to ratify the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, a whip said, removing a key hurdle for the reform roadmap.

Hartmut Koschyk of the conservative Christian Social Union, one of three parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel's "grand coalition," said the parliamentary groups had agreed a draft law that would protect national powers within the EU.

"We have now reached an accord on a legally binding, far more comprehensive law," Koschyk said.

Germany's top court ruled in June that the Lisbon Treaty -- aimed at streamlining decision-making in the 27-nation EU -- must be put on ice until legislation guarding national parliamentary powers was passed.

The draft law is intended to fulfil the constitutional court's requirements.

The timetable is tight, however, as the Bundestag lower house of parliament aims to vote on the draft law on September 8 followed by the Bundesrat upper house on September 18, nine days before the German general election.

EU officials fear that if Germany fails to approve the bill before its voters go to the polls, it could bolster opponents of the treaty in the three other states that have not yet endorsed it: Ireland, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Only Ireland is constitutionally bound to put it to a referendum, which is to be held on October 2.

Merkel is one of the framers of the treaty and differences within the coalition produced friction in the middle of the German election campaign.

The Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and a traditionally eurosceptic party, had produced a 14-point wish list to block political encroachment from Brussels.

The legislation approved Tuesday nixes the CSU's more controversial demands including binding the government to consult the German parliament in EU negotiations and requiring referendums before the bloc can accept new members.

But it ensures that the Bundestag will have a say in steps taken by the EU toward greater integration of its members -- that is, boosting the bloc's powers.

And the German government must immediately inform the Bundestag about European initiatives, CDU/CSU whip Norbert Roettgen said.

"The federal government must be unfettered in its ability to act outside Germany and unfettered in its accountability inside Germany," Roettgen said.

He said the Christian Union, Social Democrats, liberal opposition Free Democrats and the ecologist Greens now aimed to jointly present the legislation.

The Lisbon Treaty is designed to facilitate decision-making in an EU which has expanded to encompass several former communist countries in eastern Europe as well as Malta and Cyprus.

The bloc has almost doubled in size since the current Nice Treaty came into force.

If the Lisbon Treaty were to replace it, the EU would do away with the current unwieldy system of the rotating presidency in favour of the selection of a leader for a limited term.

A powerful foreign policy supremo would also be appointed.

The treaty itself is a watered-down version of the European constitution that was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

AFP/Expatica

1 Comment To This Article

  • Germain posted:

    on 20th August 2009, 22:52:51 - Reply

    Sure some german parties agreed in a hurry but it's far from over. Some opposing party members are very unhappy with the results so far. Many germans expect those opponents to call for the constitutional court a second time. As soon as the new law is published, merkel's administration will meet the court again before the ink has dried. For the pro-lisbon side it is way to early to celebrate their victory in germany.