Continuation of ratification process welcomed

Germany
Institute for European Politics

After the European Council meeting in December 2008 which has been dominated by economic and energy issues, the future of the EU seems to be regarded quite optimistically in Germany. Especially the prospect of Ireland holding a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty before the end of the European Commission’s term of office has been warmly welcomed. The German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, “was in confident mood: ‘Together with our Irish friends, we have agreed on a process which will allow a new referendum in Ireland and enable the Treaty to enter into force at the end of 2009’”.[1] This agreement, reached at the European Council meeting,[2] is mostly seen as a continuation of the ratification process, and there is not much discussion about the consequences of a second ‘No’ vote.[3] The only party in the German parliament sceptical of a second referendum is the Left Party (“Die Linke”), arguing that such a procedure is everything but democratic.[4] The Left is also the only party in the German parliament arguing for a stop of the current ratification process,[5] having also voted against the law approving of the Lisbon Treaty.[6]
The parliamentary ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in Germany had been completed in May 2008.[7] Meanwhile, the Federal President, Horst Köhler, has approved of the respective laws, which are now published in the Federal Law Gazette.[8] Köhler still waits, though, to sign the ratification bill until the federal constitutional court (‘Bundesverfassungsgericht’) has returned a verdict on the appeals against the Lisbon Treaty. The hearings were held on the 10 and 11 February 2009.[9]
 
As also agreed on at the European Council meeting in December 2008, the European elections will take place according to the rules of the Nice Treaty.[10] Should the Lisbon Treaty enter into force, the number of MEPs for member states having more MEPs according to the rules of the Lisbon Treaty will be increased accordingly. Yet, Germany (the only member state having fewer MEPs according to the rules of the Lisbon Treaty) will keep its three additional MEPs, as it has been agreed that the number of MEPs will rise from 736 to 754 during the 2009-2014 legislative period of the European Parliament if the Lisbon Treaty enters into force.[11] Maybe this is the reason why there is not much discussion about this, neither in the parties nor in the press.
 
All German parties are in the process of setting up their lists, choosing their candidates, and drafting their programmes for the coming European elections in June 2009. All this seems to be business as usual.[12] Only in Bavaria, where the CSU, the sister party of the CDU, has its own list, there is some ‘commotion’ as the party has to ensure to reach the German-wide threshold of 5 percent. This might be difficult as the party lost a lot of votes in the last state parliament elections in September 2008 and because in other German states (‘Länder’), local elections will be held on the same day as the European elections.[13]
 
With regard to the European Commission, the decision taken at the European Council meeting in December 2008 to keep the principle of ‘one commissioner per member state’ is pitied, although widely regarded as necessary to ensure that Ireland is able to hold a second referendum.[14] This view is also expressed, for example, by the “Confederation of German Employers’ Associations” (BDA) and the “Federation of German Industries” (BDI).[15] Otherwise, the appointment of a new European Commission is, so far, not very much discussed.
 
The fact that issues about the future of the EU do not receive much attention so far might be due to the upcoming general elections in Germany which will take place in September 2009. As a new German government constellation might entail new official German positions on such issues, it remains to be seen how the various parties score in the European elections, in the various state and local elections, and especially in the general elections.[16]




[1] German Federal Foreign Office: The EU Reform Treaty, available at: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/en/Europa/LissabonVertrag/Reformver... (last access 3 February 2009).


[2] For more details see Council of the European Union: Brussels European Council. 11 and 12 December 2008. Presidency Conclusions, 12 December 2008, 17271/08, available at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/ec/1046... (last access 3 February 2009).


[3] Cf. the parliamentary debate on Steinmeier’s government declaration of 18 December 2008, see Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/196, pp. 21128(A)-21151(C), available at: http://www.bundestag.de/bic/plenarprotokolle/pp_pdf/16196.pdf (last access 3 February 2009).


[4] See, for example, the statement by Oskar Lafontaine (DIE LINKE) in the parliamentary debate on Steinmeier’s government declaration of 18 December 2008, see Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/196, 18 December 2008, p. 21137(B)-(C), available at: http://www.bundestag.de/bic/plenarprotokolle/pp_pdf/16196.pdf (last access 3 February 2009).


[5] See, for example, Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/196, 18 December 2008, p. 21151(B)-(C), available at: http://www.bundestag.de/bic/plenarprotokolle/pp_pdf/16196.pdf (last access 3 February 2009). The corresponding documents are: Beschlussempfehlung und Bericht des Ausschusses für die Angelegenheiten der Europäischen Union (21. Ausschuss) zu dem Antrag der Abgeordneten Dr. Diether Dehm, Monika Knoche, Hüseyin-Kenan Aydin, weiterer Abgeordneter und der Fraktion DIE LINKE – Drucksache 16/8879 – Das Ratifizierungsverfahren zum Vertrag von Lissabon aussetzen – Ein Sozialprotokoll vereinbaren, Drucksache 16/10832, 11 November 2008, available at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/108/1610832.pdf (last access 3 February 2009) and Entschließungsantrag der Fraktion DIE LINKE. Zu der Abgabe einer Regierungserklärung durch den Bundesminister des Auswärtigen zu den Ergebnissen des Europäischen Rats am 11./12. Dezember 2008, Drucksache 16/11404, 16 December 2008, available at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/114/1611404.pdf (last access 3 February 2009).


[6] See Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/157, 24 April 2008, pp. 16482(D)-16485(C), available at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/16/16157.pdf (last access 3 February 2009).


[7] Institut für Europäische Politik (Ed.): EU-27 Watch, No. 7, September 2008, Berlin, p. 16, available at: http://www.iep-berlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/EU-... (last access 3 February 2009). See also Pressing on with ratification: The German reaction to the Irish ‘No’, in: Institut für Europäische Politik (Ed.): EU-27 Watch, No. 7, September 2008, Berlin, pp. 36-38, available at: http://www.iep-berlin.de/fileadmin/website/09_Publikationen/EU_Watch/EU-... (last access 3 February 2009).


[8] S. Höll/R. Bodensteiner: Köhler billigt EU-Vertrag, in: sueddeutsche.de, 8 October 2008, available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/401/313308/text/ (last access 3 February 2009); Reference and Research Services of the Deutscher Bundestag: Laws relating to the Treaty of Lisbon: certification, promulgation, entry into force, Topical Term of 30 October 2008, Research Paper 66/08, available at: http://www.bundestag.de/wissen/analysen/2008/gesetze_zum_vertrag_von_lis... (last access 3 February 2009). For the laws published in the Federal Law Gazette see: Gesetz zum Vertrag von Lissabon vom 13. Dezember 2007, vom 8. Oktober 2008, in: Bundesgesetzblatt, Jahrgang 2008, Teil II Nr. 27, 14 October 2008, p. 1038, available at: http://frei.bundesgesetzblatt.de/pdf/bgbl2/bgbl208s1038.pdf (last access 3 February 2009) and Gesetz zur Änderung des Grundgesetzes (Artikel 23, 45 und 93), vom 8. Oktober 2008, in: Bundesgesetzblatt, Jahrgang 2008, Teil 1 Nr. 45, 16 October 2008, p. 1926, available at: http://www.bgblportal.de/BGBL/bgbl1f/bgbl108s1926.pdf (last access 3 February 2009).


[9] Among others, a conservative MP from the CSU, Peter Gauweiler, and the parliamentary faction of the Left Party have appealed to the constitutional court. For the appeals and a first coverage of the hearing see, for example, Reinhard Müller: Bewährungsprobe für Europas Integration. Das Verfassungsgericht verhandelt über den Lissabon-Vertrag, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10 February 2009; Heribert Prantl: Deutsch-europäischer Showdown, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10 February 2009; Helmut Kerscher: Macht, die andere ohnmächtig macht, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10 February 2009; Heribert Prantl: Verfassungsgericht zweifelt an der EU-Reform, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11 February 2009; Helmut Kerscher: Europas Reformvertrag wird in Karlsruhe zerlegt, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11 February 2009. For a first assessment of the appeals see, for example: Elmar Brok/Martin Selmayr: Der ‚Vertrag der Parlamente’ als Gefahr für die Demokratie? Zu den offensichtlich unbegründeten Verfassungsklagen gegen den Vertrag von Lissabon, in: integration 3/08, pp. 217-234, available at: http://www.iep-berlin.de/index.php?id=655 (last access 3 February 2009).


[10] Council of the European Union: Brussels European Council. 11 and 12 December 2008. Presidency Conclusions, 12 December 2008, 17271/08, available at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/ec/104692.pdf(last access 3 February 2009).


[11] Reference and Research Services of the Deutscher Bundestag: Veränderungen in der Europäischen Union im Jahr 2009, Europa-Thema of 12 January 2009, Research Paper 02/09, available at: http://www.bundestag.de/wissen/analysen/2009/veraenderungen_in_der_eu_20... (last access 3 February 2009).


[12] For an overview over the parties’ preparations for the European elections in Germany and further links see, for example, the following websites: http://www.wahlen-europa.de/, http://www.cap-lmu.de/themen/europawahl/index.php, or http://www.cep.eu/europawahl2009.html (last access 3 February 2009).


[13] Gerd Langguth: Warum Seehofer plötzlich Gefallen an Volksabstimmungen findet, in: spiegel online, 18 January 2009, available at: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,600617,00.html (last access 3 February 2009); Albert Schäffer: Banger Blick auf die Europawahl, in: FAZ.net, 12 January 2009, available at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub594835B672714A1DB1A121534F010EE1/Doc~E209176357E... (last access 3 February 2009).


[14] Cf. the parliamentary debate on Steinmeier’s government declaration of 18 December 2008, see Bundestagsplenarprotokoll 16/196, pp. 21128(A)-21151(C), here p. 21131(C), available at: http://www.bundestag.de/bic/plenarprotokolle/pp_pdf/16196.pdf (last access 3 February 2009). See also spiegel online: EU-Gipfel senkt Ziele für Konjunkturpaket, 12 December 2008, available at: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,595977,00.html (last access 3 February 2009); Nikolas Busse: EU strebt zweites Referendum in Irland an, in FAZ.net, 11 December 2008, available at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub99C3EECA60D84C08AD6B3E60C4EA807F/Doc~E78978D5E2C... (last access 3 February 2009).


[15] BDA – Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände: euro-info No. 7, 16 December 2008, available at: http://www.arbeitgeber.de/www/arbeitgeber.nsf/res/Euro-Info7_08.pdf/$file/Euro-Info7_08.pdf (last access 3 February 2009); BDI/BDA The German Business Representation: BDI/BDA Brüssel Aktuell, No. 11, 19 December 2008, availabe at: http://www.bdi-online.de/BDIONLINE_INEAASP/iFILE.dll/XC918DA0597D549CDAD... (last access 3 February 2009).


[16] See also the German chapter “The jubilee and memorial year 2009 and the shadows of elections” in chapter IV “Current issues and discourses” in this issue of EU-27 Watch.