Germany's top court to decide on EU treaty
Today @ 08:56 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Germany's top court will on Tuesday (30 June) decide whether the EU's new treaty is compatible with the country's constitution in a judgement that is keenly awaited throughout the rest of the bloc.
The constitutional court will at 10am CET deliver a ruling examining a series of complaints that suggest that the treaty, some six years in the making, would undermine the German parliament and the country's sovereignty as well as transfer too many powers to the EU but not make it democratic enough.
Bundestag - the court is expected to rule that the parliament should have a say over whether further powers should be transferred to the EU in the future (Photo: Torkil Sørensen/norden.org)
The judges involved in the case held a two-day hearing in February, to which Berlin sent foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, to make the treaty's case.
Some of the judges expressed some scepticism during the hearing about whether the treaty ensures more democracy for the EU's citizens, and they had reservations about the number of powers that will be transferred to the EU level under the treaty and the fact that new powers in the future can be achieved without a treaty change.
The court is not expected to give the red light to the treaty, which is strongly supported by German chancellor Angela Merkel. Instead, it is set to give the go ahead to the complete ratification of the text, but with certain conditions.
German newspapers suggest the court will say that future transferral of power to Brussels should only be allowed after the approval of the Bundestag (parliament) and that the constitutional court itself should watch over this process.
The constitutional court ruled on a similar complaint in 1993 over the Maastricht Treaty, which paved the way to the creation of the euro.
At the time it ruled the treaty compatible with the German constitution but said it, the court, should have the last word on whether the EU is overstepping the competences conferred on it by the treaty.
If the court says yes to the treaty it will pave the way to the final step of ratification in Germany - signature by the president Horst Koehler. The German parliament passed the treaty with an overwhelming majority last year.
But the overall fate of the treaty in the 27-member EU will remain unclear even if Germany makes the pro-Lisbon move.
Ireland will have a second referendum on it at the beginning of October, while the presidents of the Czech Republic and Poland have not yet signed it.
Berlin, along with France, is keen to see the treaty - creating an EU foreign minister and EU president post - in place as soon as possible and is pushing for a 1 January 2010 start date.
It has said progress on other issues, such as further enlargement of the EU, cannot go ahead without the Lisbon Treaty.