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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.12.10: Treaty change to provide for a permanent European Stability Mechanism from mi... - 0 views

  • A two-sentence paragraph to be inserted into the Lisbon Treaty will prepare the legal groundwork for a permanent European Stability Mechanism (ESM) from mid-2013 onwards, under which the costs of future eurozone bail-outs may also be shared by sector private sector participants.

    "The member states whose currency is the euro may establish a stability mechanism to safeguard the stability of the euro area as a whole. The granting of financial assistance under the mechanism will be made subject to strict conditionality," reads the paragraph, contained in draft EU summit conclusions seen by this website on Monday (13 December).

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pressed EU leaders to accept the treaty change as she fears Germany's powerful constitutional court may raise objections to the €440 billion temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), agreed in May and set to provide aid to Ireland. While EU policymakers insist the temporary facility and earlier aid to Greece do not contravene the EU treaty's 'no bail-out clause', Berlin is keen to remove any legal uncertainty, with a number of legal challenges currently under examination by the German court.
  • The treaty change is to take place under a new procedure introduced under the Lisbon Treaty - the simplified revision procedure - allowing for limited treaty changes without the setting up of a convention, on condition that new powers are not transferred from the national to EU level. In the draft conclusions, EU leaders also call on euro area finance ministers and the commission to finalise work on setting up the permanent aid mechanism, including features that could force sovereign bond holders to accept diminished returns on their investments, should a eurozone government be forced to call for aid under the ESM from 2013 onwards. The move stands in marked contrast to aid terms recently agreed for Ireland, under which holders of Irish sovereign debt and senior debt in Irish banks were not forced to accept a 'haircut.' Instead, Irish taxpayers will indirectly pay back the €85 billion borrowed from the EU-IMF for many years to come. Analysts say this move was partially designed to prevent further instability in the European banking sector, with many firms considerably exposed to the Irish market.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

29.10.10: 'Small, small, small' EU treaty change to deliver 'quantum leap' - 0 views

  • European leaders have given way to German demands for a change to the European treaties, but the procedure for the change and its size has been calculated explicitly to avoid the danger that it could provoke referendums in some EU states.
  • Viritually all EU member states had vehemently opposed any treaty change going into the summit, but in the end they were convinced by Germany's need for the change in order to avoid a legal clash with its Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court. The leaders agreed to construct a permanent crisis mechanism to fill the void left when the existing but temporary €110 billion bail-out package for Greece and €440 billion fund set up for the eurozone as a whole expire in 2013. According to diplomats, it is currently unclear whether this new mechanism would involve participation of eurozone members alone or the full 27 EU member states, including those who do not use the euro. Germany is worried that any permanent structure could run afoul of treaty rules forbidding EU bail-outs of member states and be struck down by the country's strict Constitutional Court, thus opening the euro once again to an assault by markets as occurred in the spring. Caught between the need for a structural change and their fear of both the activism of Karlsruhe and the growing euroscepticism of citizens, the other leaders signed off on the move only so long as the change envisaged was "small, small, small - the smallest possible ... in order to ensure there is no possibility of referendums," in the words of a Danish diplomat speaking to EUobserver. The method EU leaders chose to achieve the change will be via what is called the "special revision procedure," introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, under which the treaty can be amended by the European Council alone, so long as there is unanimity and the changes do not extend the competences of the European Union.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

02.04.10: Germany Hijacks Iceland's EU Bid - 0 views

  • Less than one year after the watershed ruling from Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court that empowered Germany’s parliament to trump EU law, Germany is using the ruling to force the EU to conform to its will. The issue Germany has chosen to test this extraordinary power not given to any other EU member nation is Iceland’s bid to join the EU. The EU’s decision to consider Iceland as an official candidate was expected to be made in a late March summit, following a favorable recommendation from the EU commission. It was delayed, however, to give the German parliament time to examine the commission’s opinion. For Iceland to be considered as an official candidate for EU membership, several German parliamentary committees must consent to the move.
  • It is interesting that the first time Germany has forced the EU to consult the Bundestag in an expansion of EU power is in the matter of enlargement—not even if a nation will become an actual member, but in such a trivial matter as whether it will be considered an official candidate. Just look at Turkey’s bid for membership to see how meaningful being an official candidate is. This area of EU power typically doesn’t have a direct impact on any of the current EU members, and so Germany chose to try out its new power in an uncontroversial way. This is apparent by the lack of headlines devoted to Germany’s first use of its national “supremacy clause.” The other heavyweights of the EU, France and Britain, are not calling foul, and none of the other member nations seem concerned that the EU’s enlargement policy was just hijacked by Germany.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

07.10.09: Brussels in limbo over Klaus treaty delay - 0 views

  • The heads of the EU's three main institutions on Wednesday (7 September) came together to point out to Czech President Vaclav Klaus the "costs" to Europe if he continues to delay ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the union's new rulebook. European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek and Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister and the current chair of the EU, said several pending decisions are awaiting clarification from Prague.
  • The uncertainty stems from the fact that the Czech constitutional court is examining a legal challenge to the Lisbon Treaty, lodged by senators close to Mr Klaus. It is unclear how quickly the court will make its decision and, if the decision is positive, how much later Mr Klaus would then sign the treaty, completing ratification. Time is pressing because the current commission's mandate expires at the end of October, as does the post of the current high representative for foreign affairs, held by Javier Solana. The Swedish presidency is nervous about entering uncharted legal territory. It can either keep the commission as a caretaker, but ineffectual, executive, or try to set up a new commission under the Lisbon Treaty rules. Another option would be to negotiate a new commission with the current rules, but that would mean unwanted negotiations on reducing its size.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

EUobserver / German debate on EU decision-making powers heats up - 0 views

  • Germany's debate on how much national say there should be over further EU integration is intensifying two weeks after the country's constitutional court handed down a significant judgement on the EU's Lisbon Treaty. The judgement was initially greeted with relief by the pro-integration camp as it did not say the EU treaty was incompatible with the German constitution.
  • But the 147-page ruling, now scoured by legal and constitutional experts, is causing strong discussion in political circles, just weeks before a new draft law incorporating the court's points is to be published.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

30.06.09: Verfassungsgericht billigt EU-Reformvertrag unter Auflagen - 0 views

  • Das Bundesverfassungsgericht hat den umstrittenen EU-Reformvertrag von Lissabon nur unter Auflagen gebilligt und die Zustimmung Deutschlands vorerst gestoppt. Zuerst müssen Bundestag und Bundesrat mehr Mitbestimmungsrechte bei EU-Entscheidungen erhalten, wie die Richter am Dienstag in Karlsruhe verkündeten. Insgesamt ist das Abkommen aber mit dem Grundgesetz vereinbar. Der Bundestag will noch vor der Wahl im September die Karlsruher Forderungen umsetzen. Erst dann darf Bundespräsident Horst Köhler das deutsche Gesetz zu dem Vertrag unterzeichnen.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.03.09: Germany's important Lisbon Treaty judgement - 0 views

  • The bulk of the six proceedings challenging the compatibility of Lisbon Treaty and the German Constitution initiated by the conservative MP Peter Gauweiler and a number of left-wing deputies from Die Linke, revolves around the question of whether the Lisbon Treaty erodes the German parliament's powers of participation in EU decision making.
  • National parliaments and the Lisbon Treaty Under the Lisbon Treaty, national parliaments are involved in the EU's policy formulation process by safeguarding the subsidiarity principle. It is essentially a consultation mechanism operating before the onset of the EU decision-making procedure and is applicable only where competences are shared between the EU and the Member States.
  • Three final remarks suffice. First, both chambers of the German parliament have approved the Lisbon Treaty and have therefore made use of what the Federal Constitutional Court has deemed in its Maastricht judgment a key means of ensuring a democratic character of the Union and of Germany's membership in it. Second, much of the academic literature, as well as an empirical inquiry recently conducted at Utrecht University, have shown that the Bundestag, unlike the Bundesrat, is quite passive in using the available tools of influencing Union's policies and laws. Third, the outcome of the pending Lisbon Treaty cases is of prime importance not only for Germany but for the whole of the EU and its relevance transcends the remaining ratification procedures in Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic. This is not least because the "sale of the state's vital powers" is at stake, as Prof. Klaus Buchner one of the complainants said. It has all the ingredients to become the most influential pronouncement that the German Federal Constitutional Court has ever made regarding the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

11.02.09: German judges express scepticism about EU treaty - 0 views

  • Several of the eight judges in charge of examining whether the EU's Lisbon Treaty is compatible with the German constitution have expressed scepticism about the constitutional effects of further EU integration. According to reports in the German media, the debate during the crucial two-day hearing starting on Tuesday (10 Februrary) on the treaty centred on criminal law and the extent to which it should be the preserve of member states rather than the EU.
  • In all, four of the eight judges questioned the Lisbon Treaty.
  • On Wednesday, the court is to examine article 146 of Germany's constitution, which says that a referendum may be called if the constitutional order in the country is changed to the detriment of Germany's current constitution – the Grundgesetz or Basic Law. The court could therefore ask for a referendum, concludes the Suedeutsche Zeitung.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.02.09: German court to begin hearing on EU treaty - 0 views

  • Germany's highest court will today (10 February) begin a hearing on whether the EU's Lisbon treaty undermines the country's own constitution by weakening the power of the national parliament. The hearing is to last two days, an exceptionally long time, seen as an indication of how seriously the court is taking the challenge.
  • The judges will look at whether the Lisbon Treaty - designed to improve decision-making in the EU - is not democratic, and therefore anti-constitutional, because it takes away power from Germany's parliament.
  • So far, the treaty has been through most of the process - it has been approved by both houses of parliament and signed by Germany's president. But the final step of ratification, handing the papers over in Rome, has been postponed pending the court decision. The judgement is expected to be made in two to three months. But even if the court comes out in favour of the Lisbon Treaty, the process may not be over. Last month, a separate group handed in another complaint on the treaty, listing political and economic faults. The court has yet to decide whether to take on the case. Elsewhere, the fate of the treaty remains uncertain too. The Czech Republic has yet to begin ratification of the treaty, while Ireland is facing a second referendum on the document after its citizens rejected it last June. Poland's President, meanwhile, has said he will not sign the treaty until it has been accepted in Ireland.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

27.01.09: German constitutional court handed new complaint on Lisbon Treaty - 0 views

  • Germany's constitutional court has been handed a second complaint over the EU's Lisbon Treaty with the potential to delay the country's final ratification of the document for several months. The new legal action, running to over 200 pages, is concerned with economic as well as political issues, which the complainants say are not addressed by the Lisbon Treaty.
  • They say that the constitutional court cannot approve the Lisbon treaty because it "strengthens the current practice of dismembering the division of powers and mixing of competences." The complaint is being brought by Markus Kerber, a commercial lawyer, Dieter Spethmann, a former chief executive of Thyssen, former MEP Franz Ludwig Graf Stauffenberg and economist Joachim Starbatty.
  • The court now has to decide whether it will accept to proof their case. If it does, it is likely to take several months to come to a decision. This could delay the German government's timetable for the treaty, which it would like in place across the bloc by the end of the year.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

21.01.09: German constitutional court to examine Lisbon treaty - 0 views

  • Germany's constitutional court is preparing for an unusually long hearing on the EU's Lisbon treaty in a process that will help determine the fate of the document across the European Union. Over two days next month (10-11 February) the court's judges will discuss whether the treaty breaches Germany's constitution.
  • The court is considering a complaint brought by conservative MP Peter Gauweiler, who has argued that the treaty infringes on the rights given to German citizens in their country's constitution by allowing a foreign court - the European Court of Justice - to decide upon such issues. He also argues that the treaty undermines the power of Germany's own parliament, the Bundestag.
  • The Czech Republic, Poland and Ireland also have yet to complete ratification. The Czech parliament is due to debate the charter at the beginning of February. If it passes parliament, it then faces another hurdle in the shape of the country's eurosceptic president, Vaclav Klaus, who must also give his approval. Ireland is having another go at ratifying the treaty after it was rejected by Irish citizens last June. The second referendum will take place in the autumn. The result will directly influence Poland's treaty situation. Polish President Lech Kaczynski has said he will only give the nod to the treaty if Ireland's referendum produces a Yes vote.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.04.08: EU treaty set to be examined by Czech and German courts - 0 views

  • The Lisbon treaty is set to be examined to see if it breaches national laws in two member states, raising the risk that the 1 January 2009 deadline for the document to come into force across the EU will be delayed.

    The Czech Senate on Thursday (24 April) voted in favour of asking the constitutional court to check whether the treaty is in line with Czech law.
  • Germany Meanwhile, Germany's court is also set to examine the treaty. After the lower house of parliament strongly endorsed the charter on Thursday, conservative MP Peter Gauweiler repeated his intention to bring the treaty before the country's constitutional court.
  • The key issues that the senators asked the court to check include the transfer of certain powers to EU institutions, the shift of decision-making among member states from unanimous to majority voting, as well as the legal implications of adopting the Charter of Fundamental Rights - with the charter causing the most concern among Czech lawmakers.
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  • He said his reason for bringing the case is the constitutional court's loss of power to the European court. The constitutional court has until now kept an eye on the inalienable rights of German citizens given to them by Germany's constitution (Grundgesetz), he noted. "With the Lisbon Treaty, the sovereignty over these rights is given to foreign courts, whose members are not sworn to protect the constitution. That is not allowed by the constitution," the MP told the paper.
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