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The Ruling on the Lisbon Treaty (July 1, 2009)

Some members of the Bundestag doubted whether the Lisbon Treaty was compatible with the Basic Law. A Federal Constitutional Court ruling, described below, declared the treaty legal, but called for an expansion of the rights of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat in European affairs.

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Lisbon Decision: Wake-up Call from Karlsruhe

This far and no further. That is Karlsruhe’s message to the political establishment. Germany can submit to the European Treaty of Lisbon – but only under strict conditions. Whoever wants more must ask the German people directly.


This marks the end of European integration as we know it. This far and no further, that is Karlsruhe’s message to the political establishment. Germany can submit to the Treaty of Lisbon, which many of its proponents regard as harmless to member states – but only under strict conditions. In the view of the Federal Constitutional Court, the previous European Union [established] on the basis of treaties between sovereign states cannot be realized in a way that deprives member states of leeway in political decision-making. Essential decisions about war and peace, criminal law and policing, revenue and expenditures, education, media, and religion must continue to be made in Germany. Certain core tasks and structures remain an inalienable part of sovereignty.

Whoever wants more, that is, wants to establish a European federal state, must ask the German people directly. The extensive and unprecedented description of essential state tasks included in this Karlsruhe decision – definitive, as it were – is as new as the reference to a possible new constitution under which Germany would be merely one component of a European state. Such a renunciation of Germany’s sovereign statehood could only be achieved through a direct decision by the German people. The Treaty of Lisbon does not – and that is precisely the point – establish a European federal state. Incidentally, there is probably hardly an EU state where a majority would favor such a move.


The Boundaries of Europe More Clearly Demarcated than Ever

Whoever does not want this European federal state, however, must live with the hybrid that is the EU and the Karlsruhe boundaries that have now been drawn more clearly than ever. Those boundaries are to be reinforced by parliament [i.e. the Bundestag and Bundesrat]. Its rights, too, are being strengthened in an unparalleled way. Of all things, the law “on the expansion and strengthening of the rights of the Bundestag and the Bundresrat” in EU matters (evidently undeserving of this name) was declared unconstitutional and must now be rectified before the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Moreover, the general parliamentarization of German foreign policy is proceeding apace.

The fact that the Bundeswehr was designated by the Constitutional Court as the parliamentary army bears consequences in this context as well. For [like the federal government] the EU also won’t be allowed to exercise control over the German military without the approval of the Bundestag either now or in the future. And in Brussels the federal government will be henceforth more strongly bound by the Bundestag vote. Practical experience will have to show what that will look like in the reality of our government and parliament. One should not expect too much real oversight. On the other hand, a lack of participation can not only be made public but also subject to censure by the Constitutional Court.

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