You could almost bet on it… Following the German Constitutional Court issuing a landmark ruling in response to the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, today’s ruling on the Lisbon Treaty again testifies to the central role Karlsruhe – the seat of the Court – plays in EU matters when asked.
Whilst most attention was focusing on the second Irish referendum, Europe seemed to lose sight of the case that had been pending before the German Constitutional Court for many months. Indeed, it was often mistakenly reported that Germany had already ratified the Lisbon Treaty, but since the challenge against the German law transposing the Lisbon Treaty had been brought forward by a group of MPs and lawyers, President Köhler had announced his intention not to sign anything before Karlsruhe’s verdict on the matter.
Now what is this ruling all about? First, Köhler’s signature will have to be further postponed, effectively meaning that the ratification process in Germany is temporarily suspended. This is because laws that strengthen the participatory powers of the German legislature will have to come into force first.
The complainants have praised this judgement as a great success in their fight against the apparent erosion of the influence of the democratically elected German legislature on decisions made in Brussels. Now, it rests on this very legislature to pass the relevant legislation very rapidly if the Treaty is to be ratified in early 2010 at the latest. Just imagine what effect a delay would have on the second referendum in Ireland and the decisions in Poland and the Czech Republic!