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Old 02-11-2009, 10:33 AM   #1
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Will Germany put the Lisbon Treaty to rest?

Germany's High Court Decides: Is the European Union Constitutional? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

When the Maastricht Treaty was signed 15 years ago -- an agreement that essentially laid the foundations for the EU as it looks and operates today -- Germany's highest court warned that "even as integration among member states progresses, a lively democracy must remain."

In other words, even as Berlin hands over competencies to the European Union, it can't hand over too many. Otherwise, the German Constitutional Court will step in. But how much is too much?

German parliamentarian Peter Gauweiler, a member of Bavaria's CSU -- the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU -- is among those challenging the Treaty of Lisbon. He argues that the so-called "flexibility clause," which allows the EU to act in areas not explicitly outlined in the treaty, means that Brussels can intervene as it likes, even in those areas reserved for national legislatures.

It is a question that has been raised before. Years ago, Udo di Fabio, one of the eight justices who will be hearing the case this week, warned that the flexibility clause "could be the beginning of the end" when it comes to the constitutionality of European Union law.

Another point of concern for many is the future of the Constitutional Court itself. In the European Constitution, which was firmly rejected in 2005 by referenda in both France and the Netherlands, the primacy of European law over member-state law was first explicitly mentioned. The Treaty of Lisbon varies from the constitution in many respects, but the superiority of EU law in some areas has been maintained. The Court of Justice of the European Union would then have jurisdiction over challenges to such legislation.

Another way of putting it: The case currently before the German court is essentially asking it to hand over some of its own competencies to the European Union. There are plenty of observers who think the justices will decline to do so.

A verdict isn't expected until later this spring.
I am not really happy with the Lisbon Treaty on aspects of bureacracy, and also think it's too early to hand over that much sovereignty to the EU which repeatedly has shown there is lots of work to be done to get itself working even under stressful conditions. Too often the member countries didn't speak with one voice, the war in Iraq only being one example. Too often it has been reluctant to pull through important reforms, like that of the European finance and subsidy system. Then there is the issue of diversity among member states, and their legal systems. And many more issues.

I am not entirely opposed to a European constitution, but think that we have yet to reach that stage.

Our Constitutional Court is an extremely important institution for our country, and in recent years it has become even more important when having to decide over numerous attempts of our Minister of the Interior's to limit our freedom and our constitutional rights and it sometimes seems to be the last voice of reason. I wouldn't feel easy if those rights were taken away, seeing as the laws that are trying to restrict our freedom and collect information to extents we hoped we got rid of originated in the European Union, and have not been adequately challenged by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

And after all, the Lisbon Treaty is not that different from the failed constitution rejected in 2005 by France and the Netherlands. And I cannot accept my country telling me that I cannot vote my conscience on such an important legislation and trying to make that decision for me.

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Old 02-13-2009, 11:04 PM   #2
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I agree with you, and like yourself I am certainly not opposed on principle to a European constitution, but I am more worried at this point about the looming possibility of a country leaving the eurozone (Spain or Ireland seem the most likely candidates at this point).

If this happens, we can safely assume that the European project (in its current form) will be set back by years.

Is it realised how close Ireland is to a sovereign default? Months or weeks away, in my view.

The Irish government does not have the resources to rescue our banks, but it will HAVE to rescue all our banks. This is an urgent situation. Belgium seems to have some problems too.

If Ireland defaults on its sovereign debt and is chucked out of the Eurozone, what then?

I do not think that people appreciate that European banks are probably collectively in a worse state than US banks.

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Old 02-14-2009, 06:41 AM   #3
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I think this financial crisis tells you something about the state of the EU. While politicians like to point out how awesome they are working together on this they do this on a tiny scale. These "concerted" efforts were minor, but in the end it is up to the individual countries to deal with their own banks and companies. I haven't seen much from the EU telling me there is a philosophy of "We have to work together as a union", but I have seen lots of fights between the country leaders one criticising the other for doing that wrong, protecting their industry too much and so on.
We are at a state with the EU far behind that we are told every year, and both the Constitution and the new Lisbon Treaty weren't going to end it but rather going to cement it.

Any country that leaves the EU will deal a huge blow to the whole construct of the union, and might even have the consequence of others following. The current Czech President is a huge sceptic of the EU and probably looking for any excuse to leave.

I also think it's telling how Ireland is left to struggle with its problems and there is no sign of an international effort, much less of an EU effort.

Belgium is a sad case as it has so many problems with itself, and now it has to deal with a situation they are not equipped to deal with. The strength of the Benelux will be put to a test as well. But that's not even meant to be a union like that.
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