Saturday 15 August 2009

The German Lisbon Treaty by-law: Negotiations approaching an end

The ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in Germany is coming closer, with intensive negotiations between different federal levels and political parties coming to an end.

According to several press reports (e.g. here or here), the revised Lisbon by-law that had to be reformed after the decision of the German Constitutional Court will massively strengthen the German Länder (the federal regions).

The draft by-law is not yet published - at least I did not find it - but there seems to be the agreement that not only the Bundestag - the German parliament - but also the Länder through the Bundesrat - the second chamber where the Länder are represented to co-decide in all matters that concern their legal competencies - will receive substantial participation rights in EU affairs.

The extreme time pressure to finalise the Lisbon ratification before the end of the term of this Bundestag (before the elections on 27 September) and thus also before the Lisbon referendum in Ireland has fostered this compromise with many concessions towards the Länder and both legislative chambers.

After this compromise, the German government will not only have to inform both chambers well in advance but also take close-to-binding instructions from both chamber that are already called "emergency brake" because the legislature will be able to bring to a halt the German government when it speaks in the EU or European Council.

As a European I am glad that this will bring us closer to the Lisbon ratification.

As a democrat and citizen I am happy that the parliamentary institutions will be strengthened towards the government.

As a political scientist I know that this will the already complex German politics even more complex, with the 16 federal regions getting more influence in the federal decision making with regard to EU decisions.

I am afraid that this will make EU politics in Germany very complicated, foster multi-level compromises that might be even less democratic and transparent for the public - especially if there is the need for a common German position under time pressure, e.g. ahead of EU or especially European Council meetings - and might therefore slow down European-level compromises in important matters in the end.

But let's wait how the final draft of the by-law will look like - as soon as I get it I will try to make an analysis and to share it with you here on the blog.


Maciek said...

I am happy that the Germans embarked on the process of updating the parliamentary arrangements to the changes brought by Lisbon Treaty. Maybe you are right, it might slow the process in the short run, but in the long run it will increase the involvement of national Parliament and might increase the level of involvement of German politicians in the European decision making process. I think other countries should follow the German (or Danish) example. Thanks for your reporting work!