February 11, 2009

SOMETIMES GERMAN NATIONALISM IS A GOOD THING:

'Europe Is Suffering from Too Little Democracy': Germany's high court is taking a closer look at the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, the document meant to replace the failed EU constitution. Early indications are that it doesn't like what it sees. If Germany says no, the treaty is likely dead. Commentators can't decide whether or not that is good. (der Spiegel, 2/11/09)

It is hardly a novelty that a European Union treaty lands before the German Constitutional Court. For years, the guardians of Germany's constitution have periodically taken a look at EU integration to make sure that Berlin is not exporting too much of its sovereignty to Brussels. And the answer has always been the same: This time it's okay, but don't go too far.

This week, though, with the Treaty of Lisbon -- the EU's blueprint for the reform of the 27-nation bloc's decision-making process -- under consideration, indications are mounting that the German court may put its foot down. During oral arguments on Tuesday, justices asked unexpectedly critical questions and raised the possibility that the court could reject the treaty outright or demand a nationwide referendum.

Referring to the shifting of law-making competencies from Berlin to Brussels, Justice Udo Di Fabio pointedly asked whether the shifting of responsibilities to the European Union "is beneficial to freedom" or whether the trend toward Brussels should more accurately be seen as an "endangerment of freedom."

The skeptical tone from the bench continued on Wednesday. "One has to look at things soberly: How much power does the Bundestag (eds note: Germany's federal parliament) still have?" asked Di Fabio. A second justice, Rudolf Mellinghoff, said he didn't really understand how Germany's parliament would benefit from handing over competencies to the European Union.

In particular, the court indicated deep skepticism about provisions in the Lisbon Treaty which would allow for the EU to have a say in German criminal law.


You can have popular sovereignty or transnational authoritarianism, not both.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 11, 2009 2:34 PM
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