Tuesday 30 June 2009

EU Lisbon Treaty: Right is might

The Declaration of independence by the Second Continental Congress of the Union of the American States (4 July 1776) said it like this:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, …”.

For the subjects of parliamentary sovereignty it may be difficult to understand that right is might, not the other way around.

The Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) in Germany has, again, scrutinized an EU reform treaty with the rights of the citizens as its yardstick, under the German Basic Law (Constitution; Grundgesetz).

As long as the European Union remains an organization based on sovereign states, the equality and the rights of citizens have to be safeguarded by the member states, by the national constitutional bodies which act on behalf of the peoples.

At the current stage of development, including the Treaty of Lisbon, these bodies are the Bundestag and Bundesrat (the German Parliament), and their participation needs to be enhanced.

If and when a uniform European people is constituted as the subject of legitimisation, and it is able to express its majority will in a politically effective manner that takes due account of equality in the context of the foundation of a European federal state, the road to a European federation is clear.

This would naturally require a change of the national Constitutions, in Germany and elsewhere.

The Federal Constitutional Court has closed no doors to the future. It just requires that the rights of the citizens are respected, to the extent possible under the Lisbon Treaty, or in a future federation based on EU citizens.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. For comparison, read the divergent conclusions by Nosemonkey: German Constitutional Court Lisbon Treaty ruling (30 June 2009).

German ruling on EU Lisbon Treaty (in English)

The Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) in Germany has now issued a press release in English with the main points of its Lisbon Treaty ruling:

Federal Constitutional Court - Press office -

Press release no. 72/2009 of 30 June 2009

Judgment of 30 June 2009
– 2 BvE 2/08, 2 BvE 5/08, 2 BvR 1010/08, 2 BvR 1022/08, 2 BvR 1259/08 und 2 BvR 182/09 –

Act Approving the Treaty of Lisbon compatible with the Basic Law;
accompanying law unconstitutional to the extent that legislative bodies
have not been accorded sufficient rights of participation

The Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court has decided today
that the Act Approving the Treaty of Lisbon (Zustimmungsgesetz zum
Vertrag von Lissabon) is compatible with the Basic Law. In contrast, the
Act Extending and Strengthening the Rights of the Bundestag and the
Bundesrat in European Union Matters (Gesetz über die Ausweitung und
Stärkung der Rechte des Bundestages und des Bundesrates in
Angelegenheiten der Europäischen Union) infringes Article 38.1 in
conjunction with Article 23.1 of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz - GG)
insofar as the Bundestag and the Bundesrat have not been accorded
sufficient rights of participation in European lawmaking procedures and
treaty amendment procedures. The Federal Republic of Germany’s
instrument of ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon may not be deposited
as long as the constitutionally required legal elaboration of the
parliamentary rights of participation has not entered into force. The
decision was reached unanimously as regards the result, by seven votes
to one as regards the reasoning (for the facts see German press releases
no. 2/2009 of 16 January 2009 and no. 9/2009 of 29 January 2009).

In essence, the decision is based on the following considerations:

1. Overview of the central aspects of the judgment
The judgment focuses on the connection between the democratic system
prescribed by the Basic Law on the level of the Federation and the level
of independent rule which has been reached on the European level. The
structural problem of the European Union is at the centre of the review
of constitutionality. The extent of the Union’s freedom of action has
steadily and considerably increased, not least by the Treaty of Lisbon,
so that meanwhile in some fields of policy, the European Union has a
shape that corresponds to that of a federal state, i.e. is analogous to
that of a state. In contrast, the internal decision-making and
appointment procedures remain predominantly committed to the pattern of
an international organisation, i.e. are analogous to international law;
as before, the structure of the European Union essentially follows the
principle of the equality of states.

As long as, consequently, no uniform European people, as the subject of
legitimisation, can express its majority will in a politically effective
manner that takes due account of equality in the context of the
foundation of a European federal state, the peoples of the European
Union, which are constituted in their Member States, remain the decisive
holders of public authority, including Union authority. In Germany,
accession to a European federal state would require the creation of a
new constitution, which would go along with the declared waiver of the
sovereign statehood safeguarded by the Basic Law. There is no such act
here. The European Union continues to constitute a union of rule
(Herrschaftsverband) founded on international law, a union which is
permanently supported by the intention of the sovereign Member States.
The primary responsibility for integration is in the hands of the
national constitutional bodies which act on behalf of the peoples. With
increasing competences and further independence of the institutions of
the Union, safeguards that keep up with this development are necessary
in order to preserve the fundamental principle of conferral exercised in
a restricted and controlled manner by the Member States. With
progressing integration, fields of action which are essential for the
development of the Member States’ democratic opinion-formation must be
retained. In particular, it must be guaranteed that the responsibility
for integration can be exercised by the state bodies of representation
of the peoples.

The further development of the competences of the European Parliament
can reduce, but not completely fill, the gap between the extent of the
decision-making power of the Union’s institutions and the citizens’
democratic power of action in the Member States. Neither as regards its
composition nor its position in the European competence structure is the
European Parliament sufficiently prepared to take representative and
assignable majority decisions as uniform decisions on political
direction. Measured against requirements placed on democracy in states,
its election does not take due account of equality, and it is not
competent to take authoritative decisions on political direction in the
context of the supranational balancing of interest between the states.
It therefore cannot support a parliamentary government and organise
itself with regard to party politics in the system of government and
opposition in such a way that a decision on political direction taken by
the European electorate could have a politically decisive effect. Due to
this structural democratic deficit, which cannot be resolved in a
Staatenverbund, further steps of integration that go beyond the status
quo may undermine neither the States’ political power of action nor the
principle of conferral.

The peoples of the Member States are the holders of the constituent
power. The Basic Law does not permit the special bodies of the
legislative, executive and judicial power to dispose of the essential
elements of the constitution, i.e. of the constitutional identity
(Article 23.1 sentence 3, Article 79.3 GG). The constitutional identity
is an inalienable element of the democratic self-determination of a
people. To ensure the effectiveness of the right to vote and to preserve
democratic self-determination, it is necessary for the Federal
Constitutional Court to watch, within the boundaries of its competences,
over the Community or Union authority’s not violating the constitutional
identity by its acts and not evidently transgressing the competences
conferred on it. The transfer of competences, which has been increased
once again by the Treaty of Lisbon, and the independence of
decision-making procedures therefore require an effective ultra vires
review and an identity review of instruments of European origin in the
area of application of the Federal Republic of Germany.

2. The standard of review
a) The Act Approving the Treaty of Lisbon is measured by the Federal
Constitutional Court against the standard of the right to vote. As a
right that is equivalent to fundamental right, a violation of the right
to vote can be challenged by a constitutional complaint (Article 38.1
sentence 1 in conjunction with Article 93.1 no. 4a GG). The right to
vote specifies the right to democratic self-determination, to free and
equal participation in the state authority exercised in Germany and to
compliance with the principle of democracy including the respect of the
constituent power of the people. The review of a violation of the right
to vote also comprises encroachments on the principles which are
codified in Article 79.3 of the Basic Law as the identity of the
constitution. The citizens’ right to determine, in equality and freedom,
public authority affecting them with regard to persons and
subject-matters through elections and other votes is anchored in human
dignity and is the fundamental element of the principle of democracy.
The principle of democracy is not amenable to weighing with other legal
interests. Amendments of the Basic Law affecting the principles laid
down in Article 1 and Article 20 of the Basic Law shall be inadmissible
(Article 79.3 of the Basic Law). The so-called eternity guarantee takes
the disposal of the identity of the free constitutional order even out
of the hands of the constitution-amending legislature. The constituent
power has not granted the representatives and bodies of the people a
mandate to change the constitutional principles which are fundamental
pursuant to Article 79.3 GG.

b) At the same time, the elaboration of the principle of democracy by
the Basic Law is open to the objective of integrating Germany into an
international and European peaceful order. The German constitution is
oriented towards opening the state system of rule to the peaceful
cooperation of the nations and towards European integration. Neither the
integration pari passu into the European Union nor the integration into
peacekeeping systems such as the United Nations necessarily lead to a
change in the system of exercise of public authority in the Federal
Republic of Germany. Instead, it is a voluntary, mutual commitment pari
passu, which secures peace and strengthens the possibilities of shaping
policy by joint coordinated action. The constitutional mandate to
realise a united Europe which follows from Article 23.1 of the Basic Law
and its Preamble means with regard to the German constitutional bodies
that participation in European integration is not left to their
political discretion. The Basic Law wants European integration and an
international peaceful order. Therefore not only the principle of
openness towards international law (Völkerrechtsfreundlichkeit), but
also the principle of openness towards European law
(Europarechtsfreundlichkeit) applies.

c) The authorisation to transfer sovereign powers to the European Union
pursuant to Article 23.1 GG is, however, granted under the condition
that the sovereign statehood of a constitutional state is maintained on
the basis of a responsible integration programme according to the
principle of conferral and respecting the Member States’ constitutional
identity, and that at the same time the Federal Republic of Germany does
not lose its ability to politically and socially shape the living
conditions on its own responsibility. Article 23.1 GG and the Preamble
do not say anything about the final character of the political
organisation of Europe. With its Article 23, the Basic Law grants powers
to participate and develop a European Union which is designed as an
association of sovereign national states (Staatenverbund). The concept
of Verbund covers a close long-term association of states which remain
sovereign, an association which exercises public authority on the basis
of a treaty, whose fundamental order is, however, subject to the
disposal of the Member States alone and in which the peoples of their
Member States, i.e. the citizens of the states, remain the subjects of
democratic legitimisation. The European Union must comply with
democratic principles as regards its nature and extent and also as
regards its own organisational and procedural elaboration (Article 23.1,
Article 20.1 and 20.2 in conjunction with Article 79.3 of the Basic
Law). This means firstly that European integration may not result in the
system of democratic rule in Germany being undermined. This does not
mean that a number of sovereign powers which can be determined from the
outset or specific types of sovereign powers must remain in the hands of
the state. European unification on the basis of a union of sovereign
states under the Treaties may, however, not be realised in such a way
that the Member States do not retain sufficient room for the political
formation of the economic, cultural and social circumstances of life.
This applies in particular to areas which shape the citizens’
circumstances of life, in particular the private space of their own
responsibility and of political and social security, which is protected
by the fundamental rights, and to political decisions that particularly
depend on previous understanding as regards culture, history and
language and which unfold in discourses in the space of a political
public that is organised by party politics and Parliament. To the extent
that in these areas, which are of particular importance for democracy, a
transfer of sovereign powers is permitted at all, a narrow
interpretation is required. This concerns in particular the
administration of criminal law, the civil and the military monopoly on
the use of force, fundamental fiscal decisions on revenue and
expenditure, the shaping of the circumstances of life by social policy
and important decisions on cultural issues such as the school and
education system, the provisions governing the media, and dealing with
religious communities.

d) The Basic Law does not grant the German state bodies powers to
transfer sovereign powers in such a way that their exercise can
independently establish other competences for the European Union. It
prohibits the transfer of competence to decide on its own competence
(Kompetenz-Kompetenz). The principle of conferral is therefore not only
a principle of European law (Article 5.1 of the Treaty on European Union
; Article 5.1 sentence 1 and 5.12 of the Treaty on European Union
in its version of the Treaty of Lisbon ), but, just like the
European Union’s obligation to respect the Member States’ national
identity (Article 6.3 TEU; Article 4.2 sentence 1 TEU Lisbon), it takes
up constitutional principles from the Member States. The integration
programme of the European Union must therefore be sufficiently precise.
To the extent that the Member States elaborate the law laid down in the
Treaties in such a way that, with the principle of conferral
fundamentally continuing to apply, an amendment of the law laid down in
the Treaties can be brought about without a ratification procedure, a
special responsibility is incumbent on the legislative bodies, apart
from the Federal Government, as regards participation, which, in
Germany, must, on the national level, comply with the requirements under
Article 23.1 of the Basic Law (responsibility for integration). The act
approving a treaty amending a European Treaty and the national
accompanying laws must therefore be such that European integration
continues to take place according to the principle of conferral without
the possibility for the European Union of taking possession of
Kompetenz-Kompetenz or to violate the Member States’ constitutional
identity which is not amenable to integration, in this case, that of the
Basic Law. For borderline cases of what is still constitutionally
admissible, the German legislature must, if necessary, make arrangements
with its laws that accompany approval to ensure that the responsibility
for integration of the legislative bodies can sufficiently develop.

e) The Federal Constitutional Court reviews whether legal instruments of
the European institutions and bodies, adhering to the principle of
subsidiarity under Community and Union law (Article 5.2 ECT; Article 5.1
sentence 2 and 5.3 TEU Lisbon), keep within the boundaries of the
sovereign powers accorded to them by way of conferred power (ultra vires
review). Furthermore, the Federal Constitutional Court reviews whether
the inviolable core content of the constitutional identity of the Basic
Law pursuant to Article 23.1 sentence 3 in conjunction with Article 79.3
of the Basic Law is respected (identity review). The exercise of these
competences of review, which are constitutionally required, safeguards
the fundamental political and constitutional structures of sovereign
Member States, which are recognised by Article 4.2 sentence 1 TEU
Lisbon, even with progressing integration. Its application in a given
case follows the principle of the Basic Law’s openness towards European

3. The subsumption
a) There are no decisive constitutional objections to the Act Approving
the Treaty of Lisbon.

aa) With the present status of integration, the European Union does,
even upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, not yet attain a
shape that corresponds to the level of legitimisation of a democracy
constituted as a state. It is not a federal state but remains an
association of sovereign states to which the principle of conferral

The European Parliament is not a body of representation of a sovereign
European people but a supranational body of representation of the
peoples of the Member States, so that the principle of electoral
election, which is common to all European states, is not applicable with
regard to the European Parliament. Other provisions of the Treaty of
Lisbon, such as the double qualified majority in the Council (Article
16.4 TEU Lisbon, Article 238.2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the
European Union ), the elements of participative, associative and
direct democracy (Art. 11 TEU Lisbon) as well as the institutional
recognition of the national Parliaments (Article 12 TEU Lisbon) cannot
compensate the deficit of European public authority that exists when
measured against requirements on democracy in states, but can
nevertheless increase the level of legitimisation of the Staatenverbund.

bb) With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Federal
Republic of Germany will remain a sovereign state. In particular, the
substance of German state authority is protected. The distribution of
the European Union’s competences, and their delimitation from those of
the Member States, takes place according to the principle of conferral
and according to other mechanisms of protection, in particular according
to provisions concerning the exercise of competences. The transfer of
sovereign powers to the European Union, which is thus performed in a
controlled and responsible manner, is not called into question by
individual provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon. This applies first of all
to the simplified amendment procedure (see in particular Article 48.6
TEU Lisbon). The “approval” of the Federal Republic of Germany in
simplified revision procedures requires a law within the meaning of
Article 23.1 sentence 2 of the Basic Law as a lex specialis with regard
to Article 59.2.

cc) To the extent that the general bridging clause under Article 48.7
TEU Lisbon makes possible the transition from the principle of unanimity
to the principle of qualified majority in the decision-making of the
Council, or the transition from the special to the ordinary legislative
procedure, this is also a Treaty amendment under primary law, which is
to be assessed pursuant to Article 23.1 sentence 2 of the Basic Law. The
national parliaments’ right to make known their opposition (Article
48.7(3) TEU Lisbon) is not a sufficient equivalent to the requirement of
ratification. The representative of the German government in the
European Council may only consent to a Treaty amendment brought about by
the application of the general bridging clause if the German Bundestag
and the Bundesrat have adopted within a period yet to be determined a
law pursuant to Article 23.1 of the Basic Law, which takes the purpose
of Article 48.7(3) TEU Lisbon as an orientation. This also applies in
case of the special bridging clause pursuant to Article 81.3(2) TFEU
being used.

dd) A law within the meaning of Article 23.1 sentence 2 of the Basic Law
is not required to the extent that special bridging clauses are
restricted to areas which are already sufficiently determined by the
Treaty of Lisbon, and which do not provide for a right for national
Parliaments to make known their opposition. Also in these cases,
however, it is incumbent on the Bundestag and, to the extent that the
legislative competences of the Länder are affected, on the Bundesrat, to
comply with their responsibility for integration in another suitable
manner. The veto right in the Council may not be waived without the
participation of the competent legislative bodies even as regards
subject-matters which have already been factually determined in the
Treaties. The representative of the German government in the European
Council or in the Council may therefore only consent to an amendment of
primary legislation through the application of one of the special
bridging clauses on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany if the
German Bundestag and, to the extent that this is required by the
provisions on legislation, the Bundesrat, have approved this decision
within a period yet to be determined, which takes the purpose of Article
48.7(3) TEU Lisbon as an orientation.

ee) Also the flexibility clause under Article 352 TFEU can be construed
in such a way that the integration programme envisaged in the provisions
can still be predicted and determined by the German legislative bodies.
With a view to the undetermined nature of possible cases of application,
the use of the flexibility clause constitutionally requires ratification
by the German Bundestag and the Bundesrat on the basis of Article 23.1
sentences 2 and 3 of the Basic Law.

ff) The Federal Constitutional Court’s competence of review is not
affected by Declaration no. 17 on Primacy annexed to the Final Act of
the Treaty of Lisbon. The foundation and the limit of the applicability
of European Union law in the Federal Republic of Germany is the order to
apply the law which is contained in the Act Approving the Treaty of
Lisbon, which can only be given within the limits of the current
constitutional order. In this respect, it is insignificant whether the
primacy of application, which the Federal Constitutional Court has
already essentially recognised for Community law, is provided for in the
Treaties themselves or in Declaration no. 17 annexed to the Final Act of
the Treaty of Lisbon.

gg) The competences that have been newly established or deepened by the
Treaty of Lisbon in the areas of judicial cooperation in criminal and
civil matters, external trade relations, common defence and with regard
to social concerns can, within the meaning of an interpretation of the
Treaty that does justice to its purpose, and must, in order to avoid
imminent unconstitutionality, be exercised by the institutions of the
European Union in such a way that on the level of the Member States,
tasks of sufficient weight as to their extent as well as their substance
remain which legally and practically are the precondition of a living
democracy. In this context, the following aspects must be given
particular attention:

- Due to the fact that democratic self-determination is affected in an
especially sensitive manner by provisions of criminal law and law of
criminal procedure, the corresponding foundations of competence in the
Treaties must be interpreted strictly - on no account extensively -,
and their use requires particular justification.

- The use of the dynamic blanket authorisation pursuant to Article
83.1(3) TFEU to extend the list of particularly serious crimes with a
cross-border dimension “on the basis of developments in crime” is
factually tantamount to an extension of the competences of the European
Union and is therefore subject to the requirement of the enactment of
a specific statute under Article 23.1 sentence 2 GG.

- In the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, particular
requirements must additionally be placed on the provisions which accord
a Member State special rights in the legislative procedure (Article
82.3, Article 83.3 TFEU: so-called emergency brake procedure). From the
perspective of German constitutional law, the necessary measure of
democratic legitimisation via the national parliaments can only be
safeguarded by the German representative in the Council exercising the
Member State’s rights set out in Article 82.3 and Article 83.3 TFEU
only on the instruction of the Bundestag and, to the extent that this
is required by the provisions on legislation, of the Bundesrat.

- The mandatory requirement of parliamentary approval for the deployment
of the armed forces abroad will continue to exist upon the entry into
force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Treaty of Lisbon does not confer on
the European Union the competence to use the Member States’ armed
forces without the approval of the respective Member State affected or
of its parliament. It also does not restrict the possibilities of
action of the German Bundestag in the area of social policy to such an
extent that this would impair the principle of the social state
(Article 23.1 sentence 3 in conjunction with Article 79.3 GG) in a
constitutionally objectionable manner and inadmissibly curtail the
democratic scope for decision-making that is required in this context.

b) There are also no decisive constitutional objections against the Act
Amending the Basic Law (Articles 23, 45 and 93) (Gesetz zur Änderung des
Grundgesetzes ). A violation of democratic
principles pursuant to Article 79.3 GG occurs neither by Article 23.1a
GG, new version, which elaborates the right to bring a subsidiarity
action as a minority right and sets the quorum at one fourth of the
Members, nor by Article 45 sentence 3 GG, new version.

c) In contrast, the Act Extending and Strengthening the Rights of the
Bundestag and the Bundesrat in European Union Matters infringes Article
38.1 in conjunction with Article 23.1 of the Basic Law insofar as rights
of participation of the German Bundestag and the Bundesrat have not been
elaborated to the constitutionally required extent. If the Member States
elaborate the European law laid down in the Treaties on the basis of the
principle of conferral in such a way that an amendment of the Treaty law
can be brought about solely or decisively by the institutions of the
European Union - albeit under the requirement of unanimity in the
Council -, a special responsibility is incumbent on the national
constitutional bodies in the context of participation. In Germany, this
responsibility for integration must on the national level comply with
the constitutional requirements made in particular under Article 23.1

This press release is also available in the original german version.


The reasoning is interesting for everyone who studies the unique political construct the European Union is at its current stage of development.

Ralf Grahn

German ruling on EU Lisbon Treaty

The German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) in Karlsruhe has ruled on the constitutionality of the EU Treaty of Lisbon.

The text of the press release is here:

Bundesverfassungsgericht - Pressestelle -

Pressemitteilung Nr. 72/2009 vom 30. Juni 2009

Urteil vom 30. Juni 2009
– 2 BvE 2/08, 2 BvE 5/08, 2 BvR 1010/08, 2 BvR 1022/08, 2 BvR 1259/08 und 2 BvR 182/09 –

Zustimmungsgesetz zum Vertrag von Lissabon mit Grundgesetz vereinbar;
Begleitgesetz verfassungswidrig, soweit Gesetzgebungsorganen keine
hinreichenden Beteiligungsrechte eingeräumt wurden

Der Zweite Senat des Bundesverfassungsgerichts hat heute entschieden,
dass das Zustimmungsgesetz zum Vertrag von Lissabon mit dem Grundgesetz
vereinbar ist. Dagegen verstößt das Gesetz über die Ausweitung und
Stärkung der Rechte des Bundestages und des Bundesrates in
Angelegenheiten der Europäischen Union insoweit gegen Art. 38 Abs. 1 in
Verbindung mit Art. 23 Abs. 1 GG, als Bundestag und Bundesrat im Rahmen
von europäischen Rechtssetzungs- und Vertragsänderungsverfahren keine
hinreichenden Beteiligungsrechte eingeräumt wurden. Die
Ratifikationsurkunde der Bundesrepublik Deutschland zum Vertrag von
Lissabon darf solange nicht hinterlegt werden, wie die von Verfassungs
wegen erforderliche gesetzliche Ausgestaltung der parlamentarischen
Beteiligungsrechte nicht in Kraft getreten ist. Die Entscheidung ist im
Ergebnis einstimmig, hinsichtlich der Gründe mit 7:1 Stimmen ergangen
(zum Sachverhalt vgl. Pressemitteilungen Nr. 2/2009 vom 16. Januar 2009
und Nr. 9/2009 vom 29. Januar 2009).

Der Entscheidung liegen im Wesentlichen folgende Erwägungen zu Grunde:

1. Zentrale Gesichtspunkte des Urteils im Überblick
Das Urteil konzentriert sich auf den Zusammenhang zwischen dem vom
Grundgesetz vorgeschriebenen demokratischen System auf Bundesebene und
dem erreichten Niveau selbständiger Herrschaftsausübung auf europäischer
Ebene. Das Strukturproblem der Europäischen Union wird in den
Mittelpunkt der Verfassungsprüfung gestellt: Der Umfang politischer
Gestaltungsmacht der Union ist - nicht zuletzt durch den Vertrag von
Lissabon - stetig und erheblich gewachsen, so dass inzwischen in einigen
Politikbereichen die Europäische Union einem Bundesstaat entsprechend -
staatsanalog - ausgestaltet ist. Demgegenüber bleiben die internen
Entscheidungs- und Ernennungsverfahren überwiegend völkerrechtsanalog
dem Muster einer internationalen Organisation verpflichtet; die
Europäische Union ist weiterhin im Wesentlichen nach dem Grundsatz der
Staatengleichheit aufgebaut.

Solange im Rahmen einer europäischen Bundesstaatsgründung nicht ein
einheitliches europäisches Volk als Legitimationssubjekt seinen
Mehrheitswillen gleichheitsgerecht politisch wirksam formulieren kann,
bleiben die in den Mitgliedstaaten verfassten Völker der Europäischen
Union die maßgeblichen Träger der öffentlichen Gewalt, einschließlich
der Unionsgewalt. Für den Beitritt zu einem europäischen Bundesstaat
wäre in Deutschland eine Verfassungsneuschöpfung notwendig, mit der ein
erklärter Verzicht auf die vom Grundgesetz gesicherte souveräne
Staatlichkeit einherginge. Ein solcher Akt liegt hier nicht vor. Die
Europäische Union stellt weiterhin einen völkerrechtlich begründeten
Herrschaftsverband dar, der dauerhaft vom Vertragswillen souverän
bleibender Staaten getragen wird. Die primäre Integrationsverantwortung
liegt in der Hand der für die Völker handelnden nationalen
Verfassungsorgane. Bei wachsenden Kompetenzen und einer weiteren
Verselbständigung der Unionsorgane sind Schritt haltende Sicherungen
erforderlich, um das tragende Prinzip der begrenzten und von den
Mitgliedstaaten kontrollierten Einzelermächtigung zu wahren. Auch sind
eigene für die Entfaltung der demokratischen Willensbildung wesentliche
Gestaltungsräume der Mitgliedstaaten bei fortschreitender Integration zu
erhalten. Insbesondere ist zu gewährleisten, dass die
Integrationsverantwortung durch die staatlichen Vertretungsorgane der
Völker wahrgenommen werden kann.

Durch den Ausbau der Kompetenzen des Europäischen Parlaments kann die
Lücke zwischen dem Umfang der Entscheidungsmacht der Unionsorgane und
der demokratischen Wirkmacht der Bürger in den Mitgliedstaaten
verringert, aber nicht geschlossen werden. Das Europäische Parlament ist
weder in seiner Zusammensetzung noch im europäischen Kompetenzgefüge
dafür hinreichend gerüstet, repräsentative und zurechenbare
Mehrheitsentscheidungen als einheitliche politische Leitentscheidungen
zu treffen. Es ist gemessen an staatlichen Demokratieanforderungen nicht
gleichheitsgerecht gewählt und innerhalb des supranationalen
Interessenausgleichs zwischen den Staaten nicht zu maßgeblichen
politischen Leitentscheidungen berufen. Es kann deshalb auch nicht eine
parlamentarische Regierung tragen und sich im
Regierungs-Oppositions-Schema parteipolitisch so organisieren, dass eine
Richtungsentscheidung europäischer Wähler politisch bestimmend zur
Wirkung gelangen könnte. Angesichts dieses strukturellen, im
Staatenverbund nicht auflösbaren Demokratiedefizits dürfen weitere
Integrationsschritte über den bisherigen Stand hinaus weder die
politische Gestaltungsfähigkeit der Staaten noch das Prinzip der
begrenzten Einzelermächtigung aushöhlen.

Die Völker der Mitgliedstaaten sind Träger der verfassungsgebenden
Gewalt. Das Grundgesetz erlaubt es den besonderen Organen der
Gesetzgebung, der vollziehenden Gewalt und Rechtsprechung nicht, über
die grundlegenden Bestandteile der Verfassung, also über die
Verfassungsidentität zu verfügen (Art. 23 Abs. 1 Satz 3, Art. 79 Abs. 3
GG). Die Verfassungsidentität ist unveräußerlicher Bestandteil der
demokratischen Selbstbestimmung eines Volkes. Zur Wahrung der
Wirksamkeit des Wahlrechts und zur Erhaltung der demokratischen
Selbstbestimmung ist es nötig, dass das Bundesverfassungsgericht im
Rahmen seiner Zuständigkeit darüber wacht, dass die Gemeinschafts- oder
die Unionsgewalt nicht mit ihren Hoheitsakten die Verfassungsidentität
verletzt und nicht ersichtlich die eingeräumten Kompetenzen
überschreitet. Die mit dem Vertrag von Lissabon noch einmal verstärkte
Übertragung von Zuständigkeiten und die Verselbständigung der
Entscheidungsverfahren setzt deshalb eine wirksame Ultra-vires-Kontrolle
und eine Identitätskontrolle von Rechtsakten europäischen Ursprungs im
Anwendungsbereich der Bundesrepublik Deutschland voraus.

2. Zum Prüfungsmaßstab
a) Das Zustimmungsgesetz zum Vertrag von Lissabon wird vom Gericht am
Maßstab des Wahlrechts gemessen. Das Wahlrecht ist als
grundrechtsgleiches Recht mit der Verfassungsbeschwerde rügefähig (Art.
38 Abs. 1 Satz 1 in Verbindung mit Art. 93 Abs. 1 Nr. 4a GG). Es
konkretisiert den Anspruch auf demokratische Selbstbestimmung, auf freie
und gleiche Teilhabe an der in Deutschland ausgeübten Staatsgewalt sowie
auf die Einhaltung des Demokratiegebots einschließlich der Achtung der
verfassungsgebenden Gewalt des Volkes. Die Prüfung einer Verletzung des
Wahlrechts umfasst hier auch Eingriffe in die Grundsätze, die Art. 79
Abs. 3 GG als Identität der Verfassung festschreibt. Das Recht der
Bürger, in Freiheit und Gleichheit durch Wahlen und Abstimmungen die sie
betreffende öffentliche Gewalt personell und sachlich zu bestimmen, ist
in der Würde des Menschen verankert und elementarer Bestandteil des
Demokratieprinzips. Das Demokratieprinzip ist nicht abwägungsfähig. Eine
Änderung des Grundgesetzes, durch welche die in Art. 1 und Art. 20 GG
niedergelegten Grundsätze berührt werden, ist unzulässig (Art. 79 Abs. 3
GG). Mit der sogenannten Ewigkeitsgarantie wird die Verfügung über die
Identität der freiheitlichen Verfassungsordnung auch dem
verfassungsändernden Gesetzgeber aus der Hand genommen. Die
verfassungsgebende Gewalt hat den Vertretern und Organen des Volkes kein
Mandat erteilt, die nach Art. 79 Abs. 3 GG grundlegenden
Verfassungsprinzipien zu verändern.

b) Zugleich ist die grundgesetzliche Ausgestaltung des
Demokratieprinzips offen für das Ziel, Deutschland in eine
internationale und europäische Friedensordnung einzufügen. Die deutsche
Verfassung ist auf Öffnung der staatlichen Herrschaftsordnung für das
friedliche Zusammenwirken der Nationen und die europäische Integration
gerichtet. Weder die gleichberechtigte Integration in die Europäische
Union noch die Einfügung in friedenserhaltende Systeme wie die Vereinten
Nationen führen dabei notwendig zu einer Veränderung im System
öffentlicher Gewaltausübung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Es handelt
sich vielmehr um freiwillige, gegenseitige und gleichberechtigte
Bindung, die den Frieden sichert und die politischen
Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten durch gemeinsames koordiniertes Handeln stärkt.
Der aus Art. 23 Abs. 1 GG und der Präambel folgende Verfassungsauftrag
zur Verwirklichung eines vereinten Europas bedeutet für die deutschen
Verfassungsorgane, dass die Beteiligung an der europäischen Integration
nicht in ihrem politischen Belieben steht. Das Grundgesetz will eine
internationale Friedensordnung und eine europäische Integration: Es gilt
deshalb nicht nur der Grundsatz der Völkerrechtsfreundlichkeit, sondern
auch der Grundsatz der Europarechtsfreundlichkeit.

c) Die Ermächtigung zur Übertragung von Hoheitsrechten auf die
Europäische Union nach Art. 23 Abs. 1 GG steht allerdings unter der
Bedingung, dass die souveräne Verfassungsstaatlichkeit auf der Grundlage
eines verantwortbaren Integrationsprogramms nach dem Prinzip der
begrenzten Einzelermächtigung und unter Achtung der
verfassungsrechtlichen Identität als Mitgliedstaat gewahrt bleibt und
die Bundesrepublik Deutschland ihre Fähigkeit zu selbstverantwortlicher
politischer und sozialer Gestaltung der Lebensverhältnisse nicht
verliert. Art. 23 Abs. 1 GG und die Präambel sagen nichts aus über den
endgültigen Charakter der politischen Verfasstheit Europas. Das
Grundgesetz ermächtigt mit Art. 23 GG zur Beteiligung und Entwicklung
einer als Staatenverbund konzipierten Europäischen Union. Der Begriff
des Verbundes erfasst eine enge, auf Dauer angelegte Verbindung souverän
bleibender Staaten, die auf vertraglicher Grundlage öffentliche Gewalt
ausübt, deren Grundordnung jedoch allein der Verfügung der
Mitgliedstaaten unterliegt und in der die Völker - das heißt die
staatsangehörigen Bürger - der Mitgliedstaaten die Subjekte
demokratischer Legitimation bleiben. Die Europäische Union muss sowohl
in Art und Umfang als auch in der organisatorischen und
verfahrensrechtlichen Ausgestaltung demokratischen Grundsätzen
entsprechen (Art. 23 Abs. 1, Art. 20 Abs. 1 und Abs. 2 in Verbindung mit
Art. 79 Abs. 3 GG). Dies bedeutet zunächst, dass die europäische
Integration nicht zur Aushöhlung des demokratischen Herrschaftssystems
in Deutschland führen darf. Zwar müssen nicht eine bestimmte Summe oder
bestimmte Arten von Hoheitsrechten in der Hand des Staates bleiben. Die
europäische Vereinigung auf der Grundlage einer Vertragsunion souveräner
Staaten darf jedoch nicht so verwirklicht werden, dass in den
Mitgliedstaaten kein ausreichender Raum zur politischen Gestaltung der
wirtschaftlichen, kulturellen und sozialen Lebensverhältnisse mehr
bleibt. Dies gilt insbesondere für Sachbereiche, die die Lebensumstände
der Bürger, vor allem ihren von den Grundrechten geschützten privaten
Raum der Eigenverantwortung und der persönlichen und sozialen Sicherheit
prägen, sowie für solche politischen Entscheidungen, die in besonderer
Weise auf kulturelle, historische und sprachliche Vorverständnisse
angewiesen sind, und die sich im parteipolitisch und parlamentarisch
organisierten Raum einer politischen Öffentlichkeit diskursiv entfalten.
Sofern in diesen besonders demokratiebedeutsamen Sachbereichen eine
Übertragung von Hoheitsrechten überhaupt erlaubt ist, ist eine enge
Auslegung geboten. Dies betrifft insbesondere die Strafrechtspflege, die
polizeiliche und militärische Verfügung über das Gewaltmonopol,
fiskalische Grundentscheidungen über Einnahmen und Ausgaben, die
sozialpolitische Gestaltung von Lebensverhältnissen sowie kulturell
bedeutsame Entscheidungen wie Erziehung, Bildung, Medienordnung und
Umgang mit Religionsgemeinschaften.

d) Das Grundgesetz ermächtigt die deutschen Staatsorgane nicht,
Hoheitsrechte derart zu übertragen, dass aus ihrer Ausübung heraus
eigenständig weitere Zuständigkeiten begründet werden können. Es
untersagt die Übertragung der Kompetenz-Kompetenz. Das Prinzip der
begrenzten Einzelermächtigung ist deshalb nicht nur ein
europarechtlicher Grundsatz (Art. 5 Abs. 1 EGV; Art. 5 Abs. 1 Satz 1 und
Abs. 2 des Vertrags über die Europäische Union in der Fassung des
Vertrags von Lissabon ), sondern nimmt - ebenso wie die
Pflicht der Europäischen Union, die nationale Identität der
Mitgliedstaaten zu achten (Art. 6 Abs. 3 EUV; Art. 4 Abs. 2 Satz 1
EUV-Lissabon) - mitgliedstaatliche Verfassungsprinzipien auf. Das
Integrationsprogramm der Europäischen Union muss deshalb hinreichend
bestimmt sein. Sofern die Mitgliedstaaten das Vertragsrecht so
ausgestalten, dass unter grundsätzlicher Fortgeltung des Prinzips der
begrenzten Einzelermächtigung eine Veränderung des Vertragsrechts ohne
Ratifikationsverfahren herbeigeführt werden kann, obliegt neben der
Bundesregierung den gesetzgebenden Körperschaften eine besondere
Verantwortung im Rahmen der Mitwirkung, die in Deutschland
innerstaatlich den Anforderungen des Art. 23 Abs. 1 GG genügen muss
(Integrationsverantwortung). Das Zustimmungsgesetz zu einem europäischen
Änderungsvertrag und die innerstaatliche Begleitgesetzgebung müssen so
beschaffen sein, dass die europäische Integration weiter nach dem
Prinzip der begrenzten Einzelermächtigung erfolgt, ohne dass für die
Europäische Union die Möglichkeit besteht, sich der Kompetenz-Kompetenz
zu bemächtigen oder die integrationsfeste Verfassungsidentität der
Mitgliedstaaten, hier des Grundgesetzes, zu verletzen. Für Grenzfälle
des noch verfassungsrechtlich Zulässigen muss der deutsche Gesetzgeber
mit seinen die Zustimmung begleitenden Gesetzen Vorkehrungen dafür
treffen, dass die Integrationsverantwortung der Gesetzgebungsorgane sich
hinreichend entfalten kann.

e) Das Bundesverfassungsgericht prüft, ob Rechtsakte der europäischen
Organe und Einrichtungen sich unter Wahrung des gemeinschafts- und
unionsrechtlichen Subsidiaritätsprinzips (Art. 5 Abs. 2 EGV; Art. 5 Abs.
1 Satz 2 und Abs. 3 EUV-Lissabon) in den Grenzen der ihnen im Wege der
begrenzten Einzelermächtigung eingeräumten Hoheitsrechte halten
(Ultra-vires-Kontrolle). Darüber hinaus prüft das
Bundesverfassungsgericht, ob der unantastbare Kerngehalt der
Verfassungsidentität des Grundgesetzes nach Art. 23 Abs. 1 Satz 3 in
Verbindung mit Art. 79 Abs. 3 GG gewahrt ist (Identitätskontrolle). Die
Ausübung dieser verfassungsrechtlich geforderten Prüfungskompetenzen
wahrt die von Art. 4 Abs. 2 Satz 1 EUV-Lissabon anerkannten
grundlegenden politischen und verfassungsmäßigen Strukturen souveräner
Mitgliedstaaten auch bei fortschreitender Integration. Sie folgt bei der
konkreten Ausübung dem Grundsatz der Europarechtsfreundlichkeit des

3. Zur Subsumtion
a) Gegen das Zustimmungsgesetz zum Vertrag von Lissabon bestehen keine
durchgreifenden verfassungsrechtlichen Bedenken.

aa) Die Europäische Union erreicht auch bei Inkrafttreten des Vertrags
von Lissabon noch keine Ausgestaltung, die staatsanalog ist und deshalb
dem Legitimationsniveau einer staatlich verfassten Demokratie
entsprechen müsste. Sie ist kein Bundesstaat, sondern bleibt ein Verbund
souveräner Staaten unter Geltung des Prinzips der begrenzten
Einzelermächtigung. Das Europäische Parlament ist kein
Repräsentationsorgan eines souveränen europäischen Volkes, sondern ein
supranationales Vertretungsorgan der Völker der Mitgliedstaaten, so dass
der allen europäischen Staaten gemeinsame Grundsatz der Wahlgleichheit
auf das Europäische Parlament keine Anwendung findet. Andere Regelungen
des Vertrags von Lissabon, wie die doppelt-qualifizierte Mehrheit im Rat
(Art. 16 Abs. 4 EUV-Lissabon, Art. 238 Abs. 2 des Vertrags über die
Arbeitsweise der Europäischen Union ), die partizipativen,
assoziativen und direkten Demokratieelemente (Art. 11 EUV-Lissabon)
sowie die institutionelle Anerkennung der nationalen Parlamente (Art. 12
EUV-Lissabon) können das - gemessen an staatlichen
Demokratieanforderungen - bestehende Defizit der europäischen
Hoheitsgewalt nicht aufwiegen, das Legitimationsniveau des
Staatenverbundes aber gleichwohl erhöhen.

bb) Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland bleibt bei Inkrafttreten des Vertrags
von Lissabon ein souveräner Staat. Insbesondere bleibt die deutsche
Staatsgewalt in ihrer Substanz geschützt. Die Verteilung und Abgrenzung
der Zuständigkeiten der Europäischen Union von denen der Mitgliedstaaten
erfolgt nach dem Prinzip der begrenzten Einzelermächtigung und weiteren
materiell-rechtlichen Schutzmechanismen, insbesondere
Zuständigkeitsausübungsregeln. Die so kontrollierte und verantwortbare
Übertragung von Hoheitsrechten auf die Europäische Union wird durch
einzelne Vorschriften des Vertrags von Lissabon nicht in Frage gestellt.
Dies gilt zunächst für das vereinfachte Änderungsverfahren (vgl.
insbesondere Art. 48 Abs. 6 EUV-Lissabon). Die „Zustimmung“ der
Bundesrepublik Deutschland im vereinfachten Änderungsverfahren setzt ein
Gesetz im Sinne des Art. 23 Abs. 1 Satz 2 GG als lex specialis zu Art.
59 Abs. 2 GG voraus.

cc) Soweit die allgemeine Brückenklausel des Art. 48 Abs. 7 EUV-Lissabon
den Übergang vom Einstimmigkeitsprinzip zum qualifizierten
Mehrheitsprinzip in der Beschlussfassung des Rates oder den Übergang vom
besonderen zum ordentlichen Gesetzgebungsverfahren ermöglicht, handelt
es sich ebenfalls um eine nach Art. 23 Abs. 1 Satz 2 GG zu beurteilende
Vertragsänderung. Das Ablehnungsrecht der nationalen Parlamente (Art. 48
Abs. 7 UAbs. 3 EUV-Lissabon) ist kein ausreichendes Äquivalent zum
Ratifikationsvorbehalt. Der deutsche Regierungsvertreter im Europäischen
Rat darf einer Vertragsänderung durch Anwendung der allgemeinen
Brückenklausel deshalb nur zustimmen, wenn der Bundestag und der
Bundesrat innerhalb einer noch auszugestaltenden Frist, die an die
Zwecksetzung des Art. 48 Abs. 7 UAbs. 3 EUV-Lissabon angelehnt ist, ein
Gesetz nach Art. 23 Abs. 1 Satz 2 GG erlassen haben. Dies gilt ebenso
für den Fall, dass von der speziellen Brückenklausel nach Art. 81 Abs. 3
UAbs. 2 AEUV Gebrauch gemacht wird.

dd) Ein Gesetz im Sinne des Art. 23 Abs. 1 Satz 2 GG ist nicht
erforderlich, soweit spezielle Brückenklauseln sich auf Sachbereiche
beschränken, die durch den Vertrag von Lissabon bereits hinreichend
bestimmt sind, und kein Ablehnungsrecht der nationalen Parlamente
vorsehen. Auch in diesen Fällen obliegt es allerdings dem Bundestag und,
soweit die Gesetzgebungsbefugnisse der Länder betroffen sind, dem
Bundesrat, die Integrationsverantwortung in anderer geeigneter Weise
wahrzunehmen. Das Vetorecht im Rat darf auch bei sachlich in den
Verträgen bereits bestimmten Gegenständen nicht ohne Beteiligung der
zuständigen Gesetzgebungsorgane aufgegeben werden. Der deutsche
Regierungsvertreter im Europäischen Rat oder Rat darf deshalb einer
Änderung des Primärrechts durch Anwendung einer der speziellen
Brückenklauseln nur dann für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland zustimmen,
wenn der Deutsche Bundestag und, soweit die Regelungen über die
Gesetzgebung dies erfordern, der Bundesrat innerhalb einer noch
auszugestaltenden Frist, die an die Zwecksetzung des Art. 48 Abs. 7
UAbs. 3 EUV-Lissabon angelehnt ist, ihre Zustimmung zu diesem Beschluss
erteilt haben.

ee) Auch die Flexibilitätsklausel des Art. 352 AEUV kann in einer Weise
ausgelegt werden, dass das in den Vorschriften in Aussicht genommene
Integrationsprogramm durch die deutschen Gesetzgebungsorgane noch
vorhersehbar und bestimmbar ist. In Anbetracht der Unbestimmtheit
möglicher Anwendungsfälle setzt die Inanspruchnahme der
Flexibilitätsklausel verfassungsrechtlich die Ratifikation durch den
Bundestag und den Bundesrat auf der Grundlage von Art. 23 Abs. 1 Satz 2
GG voraus.

ff) Die verfassungsrechtlich gebotene Kontrollkompetenz des
Bundesverfassungsgerichts ist durch die der Schlussakte zum Vertrag von
Lissabon beigefügte Erklärung Nr. 17 zum Vorrang nicht berührt. Der
Grund und die Grenze für die Geltung des Rechts der Europäischen Union
in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland ist der im Zustimmungsgesetz
enthaltene Rechtsanwendungsbefehl, der nur im Rahmen der geltenden
Verfassungsordnung erteilt werden kann. Es ist insoweit nicht von
Bedeutung, ob der Anwendungsvorrang des Unionsrechts, den das
Bundesverfassungsgericht bereits für das Gemeinschaftsrecht im Grundsatz
anerkannt hat, in den Verträgen selbst oder in der der Schlussakte zum
Vertrag von Lissabon beigefügten Erklärung Nr. 17 vorgesehen ist.

gg) Die durch den Vertrag von Lissabon neu begründeten oder vertieften
Zuständigkeiten in den Bereichen der Justiziellen Zusammenarbeit in
Strafsachen und Zivilsachen, der Außenwirtschaftsbeziehungen, der
Gemeinsamen Verteidigung sowie in sozialen Belangen können im Sinne
einer zweckgerechten Auslegung des Vertrages und müssen zur Vermeidung
drohender Verfassungswidrigkeit von den Organen der Europäischen Union
in einer Weise ausgeübt werden, dass auf mitgliedstaatlicher Ebene
sowohl im Umfang als auch in der Substanz noch Aufgaben von
hinreichendem Gewicht bestehen, die rechtlich und praktisch
Voraussetzung für eine lebendige Demokratie sind. Dabei ist insbesondere
Folgendes zu beachten:

- Wegen der besonders empfindlichen Berührung der demokratischen
Selbstbestimmung durch Straf- und Strafverfahrensnormen sind die
entsprechenden vertraglichen Kompetenzgrundlagen strikt - keinesfalls
extensiv - auszulegen und ihre Nutzung bedarf besonderer

- Die Nutzung der dynamischen Blankettermächtigung nach Art. 83 Abs. 1
UAbs. 3 AEUV, „je nach Entwicklung der Kriminalität“ eine Ausdehnung
des Katalogs besonders schwerer grenzüberschreitender Straftaten
vorzunehmen, entspricht in der Sache einer Erweiterung der
Zuständigkeiten der Europäischen Union und unterliegt deshalb dem
Gesetzesvorbehalt des Art. 23 Abs. 1 Satz 2 GG.

- Im Bereich der Justiziellen Zusammenarbeit in Strafsachen sind
zusätzlich besondere Anforderungen an die Regelungen zu stellen, die
einem Mitgliedstaat spezielle Rechte im Gesetzgebungsverfahren
einräumen (Art. 82 Abs. 3, Art. 83 Abs. 3 AEUV: sogenanntes
Notbremseverfahren). Das notwendige Maß an demokratischer Legitimation
über die mitgliedstaatlichen Parlamente lässt sich aus dem Blickwinkel
des deutschen Verfassungsrechts nur dadurch gewährleisten, dass der
deutsche Vertreter im Rat die in Art. 82 Abs. 3 und Art. 83 Abs. 3
AEUV genannten mitgliedstaatlichen Rechte nur nach Weisung des
Bundestages, und soweit die Regelungen über die Gesetzgebung dies
erfordern, des Bundesrates ausübt. - Auch bei Inkrafttreten des
Vertrags von Lissabon besteht der konstitutive Parlamentsvorbehalt für
den Auslandseinsatz der Streitkräfte fort. Der Vertrag von Lissabon
überträgt der Europäischen Union keine Zuständigkeit, auf die
Streitkräfte der Mitgliedstaaten ohne Zustimmung des jeweils
betroffenen Mitgliedstaats oder seines Parlaments zurückzugreifen. Er
beschränkt auch die sozialpolitischen Gestaltungsmöglichkeiten des
Deutschen Bundestages nicht in einem solchen Umfang, dass das
Sozialstaatsprinzip (Art. 23 Abs. 1 Satz 3 in Verbindung mit Art. 79
Abs. 3 GG) in verfassungsrechtlich bedenklicher Weise beeinträchtigt
und insoweit notwendige demokratische Entscheidungsspielräume
unzulässig vermindert wären.

b) Gegen das Gesetz zur Änderung des Grundgesetzes (Artikel 23, 45 und
93) bestehen ebenfalls keine durchgreifenden verfassungsrechtlichen
Bedenken. Eine Verletzung demokratischer Grundsätze nach Art. 79 Abs. 3
GG erfolgt weder durch Art. 23 Abs. 1a GG n.F., der das Recht zur
Erhebung der Subsidiaritätsklage als Minderheitenrecht ausgestaltet und
das Quorum auf ein Viertel der Mitglieder festlegt, noch durch Art. 45
Satz 3 GG n.F.

c) Dagegen verstößt das Gesetz über die Ausweitung und Stärkung der
Rechte des Bundestages und des Bundesrates in Angelegenheiten der
Europäischen Union insoweit gegen Art. 38 Abs. 1 in Verbindung mit Art.
23 Abs. 1 GG, als Beteiligungsrechte des Deutschen Bundestages und des
Bundesrates nicht in dem von Verfassungs wegen erforderlichen Umfang
ausgestaltet worden sind. Gestalten die Mitgliedstaaten auf der
Grundlage des Prinzips der begrenzten Einzelermächtigung das europäische
Vertragsrecht in einer Art und Weise aus, dass eine Veränderung des
Vertragsrechts bereits ohne Ratifikationsverfahren allein oder
maßgeblich durch die Organe der Europäischen Union - wenngleich unter
dem Einstimmigkeitserfordernis im Rat - herbeigeführt werden kann,
obliegt den nationalen Verfassungsorganen eine besondere Verantwortung
im Rahmen der Mitwirkung. Diese Integrationsverantwortung muss in
Deutschland innerstaatlich den verfassungsrechtlichen Anforderungen
insbesondere des Art. 23 Abs. 1 GG genügen.


The Federal Constitutional Court has also published the ruling, which will be studied with interest both in Germany and the rest of Europe.

Ralf Grahn

European Parliament reform

Those who think that the European Union should develop according to the agreed and ratified treaty aims of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe are likely to favour the emergence of a parliamentary system, based on the votes of EU citizens, with European level government.

In this respect, the Treaty of Lisbon is a step forward, because it strengthens the legislative powers of the European Parliament, by extending co-decision (the ordinary legislative procedure) to a number of policy areas or issues.

The importance of the Lisbon Treaty should not be exaggerated. Special legislative procedures remain in many areas, with the Council in a privileged position. Treaty reform is still in the hands of the member states, not the representatives of EU citizens. Foreign, security and defence policy continue to be outside the effective control of the European Parliament, and even the Council’s powers are basically subject to unanimity, ensuring that the European Union remains a relative midget in world affairs. The member states block the resources (taxation) and make the strategic spending decisions (long term budget), although the European Parliament is allowed a wider role with regard to annual budgets.

Regardless of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, an effective and democratic European Union is still a long way off.


New European Parliament

The newly elected European Parliament will convene for the first time in about two weeks. It should start to formulate its priorities for the coming five years.

There are questions, where the European Parliament can function as a conscience and a catalyst or debate. There are also matters, where the EP has all the tools to gain the trust of EU citizens by wise internal decisions and practices.

As the only EU institution directly elected by the citizens, the European Parliament has an obligation to keep the question of EU reform alive. This requires the judicious use of own initiative reports on long term institutional reform towards real parliamentary democracy.

In the future, all running political affairs should be decided by simple majorities, abolishing the need for majorities of the component members (and thus the stifling “grand coalitions”).

The European elections 2009 and the political parties at European level (Europarties) showed weaknesses, which demand constructive initiatives and proposals in order to strengthen European level democracy.

The European Parliament needs to take a critical look at itself and its image. As shown by the Westminster expenses scandal, the EP has to change its attitude to openness, transparency and sound financial practices, although it has curbed some of the most flagrant excesses from the beginning of the new parliamentary term.

The European Parliament does a better job than the Council at informing the public about its legislative work (committee agendas, proposed amendments, reports) than the Council, but the same standards should be extended to the EP’s internal bodies, such as the Bureau and the Conference of Presidents, including the meeting documents. They should be made automatically and visibly accessible to the public in the same manner.

Internal audit reports should be made available automatically and followed up by proposals and decisions, including actions taken against wayward MEPs. Whistleblowers should be promoted instead of demoted.

Despite differing views on the ultimate goals of European integration, the European Parliament has many reasons to take on board criticism of its practices, such as Open Europe’s publication The European Parliament - What does it do and how does it affect your everyday life? (April 2009)

For instance, the following proposals by Open Europe (with some modifications by me) merit serious consideration:

• The Parliament should publish the official figures for MEPs’ salary, pension and expense entitlements in one easily accessible document. (This should include information about EU and national taxation.)
• MEPs need to be open and transparent about how they spend their allowances and should publish all this information.
• MEPs should be obliged to produce receipts for all expenses, and receive allowances accordingly, rather than receive flat-rate expenses for office equipment, etc.
• All unused allowances, and allowances not supported with receipts, should be reimbursed back to the EU budget.
• Any MEP who is caught misusing allowances should, after a proper legal inquiry, be suspended and replaced.
• A robust register of MEPs’ financial interests
• The European Parliament should regularly propose to the Council treaty reform leading to an end to the “traveling circus” between Brussels and Strasbourg
• An end to opaque back-room deals with regard to MEPs rights and obligations (Open committee preparation. See also Bureau and Conference of Presidents publicity above)
• Publish full minutes of Committee meetings
• Allow MEPs greater freedom in debates
• MEPs need to make it clear what they stand for (much facilitated, if the need for grand coalitions is scrapped)

Ralf Grahn

Monday 29 June 2009

EU Lisbon Treaty: Irish guarantees explained

The Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin has published an explanation of the Lisbon Treaty guarantees to Ireland.

Ralf Grahn

European Union: Better regulation

On its road to an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, the European Union has as its task, by establishing a common market and an economic and monetary union and by implementing common policies or activities, to promote throughout the European Community a harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities, a high level of employment and of social protection, equality between men and women, sustainable and non-inflationary growth, a high degree of competitiveness and convergence of economic performance, a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, and economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States (Article 1 TEC).

Social market economy

Among the modernised aims of the European Union, in the Lisbon Treaty Article 3(3) TEU, we find “a highly competitive social market economy”:

“3. The Union shall establish an internal market. It shall work for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment. It shall promote scientific and technological advance.

It shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child.

It shall promote economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States.

It shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity, and shall ensure that Europe's cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced.”


Legislation and regulation

Legislation is an important instrument for the European Union promotes its aims, and the stream of Directives, Regulations and Decisions is impressive.

In principle, the objectives of the legislative acts are worthy, such as improved environmental standards, consumer protection, human safety, health and wellbeing.

While the legislation is often addressed to the member states, much of it targets businesses. Regulation leads to compliance costs for enterprises, and the combined cost of business regulation is too great to ignore at national and European level.

Much can be said for replacing different national rules by common norms for 27 EU member states (or 30 countries of the European Economic Area, EEA), but the economy in the internal market is not meant to be only “social”, but also “highly competitive”.

Given the importance of the European Union, both benefits and costs of business regulation need to be scrutinised carefully, because European level legislation affects about 500 million people.


Better regulation

The European Commission pursues a Better Regulation strategy, with the following courses of action:

 Promoting the design and application of better regulation tools at the EU level, notably simplification, reduction of administrative burdens and impact assessment.
 Working more closely with Member States to ensure that better regulation principles are applied consistently throughout the EU by all regulators.
 Reinforcing the constructive dialogue between stakeholders and all regulators at the EU and national levels

The Commission’s own assessment of its agenda is the Communication Third strategic review of Better Regulation in the European Union (Brussels, 28.1.2009, COM(2009) 15 final).

The Communication presents efforts to cut “red tape” by scrapping obsolete legislation and codifying existing legal acts. The implications of proposed new laws are scrutinised through impact assessments, with new Impact assessment guidelines (since 15 January 2009; SEC(2009) 92).


Open Europe

Open Europe’s publication Out of control? Measuring a decade of EU regulation was published in February 2009, which means that some of the questions it raises may have been addressed in the Communication (and accompanying documents) as well as the new Impact assessment guidelines.

Still, the publication raises valid points about regulatory costs at both national (UK) and European level. (It does not look at the benefits.)

Despite the efforts, the costs of regulation have continued to rise.

Administrative costs have been at the centre of attention, with the EU scrapping obsolete legislation and simplifying existing laws. The wider costs of compliance with regulation, fees and licenses as well as knock-on effects have been less well scrutinised.

Open Europe correctly underlines the importance of European level regulation, meaning that a purely domestic (UK) agenda is too limited in scope.


New Commission

The newly elected European Parliament is starting its work and the legislative engine, the new Commission, will begin to set its priorities from the end of this year (1 November 2009).

Open Europe’s remarks and suggestions need to be taken seriously by the EU institutions, comparing them to the latest Communication and Impact assessment guidelines.

Although Open Europe dealt with national issues from a British perspective, all national governments could profit from many of the suggestions, both with regard to their contributions to Council work and to their domestic agendas on sensible regulation.

A level playing-field within the EU (EEA) is desirable, but far from enough. A highly competitive social market economy needs to be competitive in a global context as well.

Ralf Grahn

Sunday 28 June 2009

Ever closer union

Right after the dignitaries, the first words of the 1957 Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (Treaty of Rome) read like this:

DETERMINED to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, …


The United Kingdom refused to join at the beginning, then applied for membership in 1961, and was finally accepted as a member from 1973.

Time enough to read the first two lines of the treaty, I would think.

Ralf Grahn

Saturday 27 June 2009

Open Europe's EU reform

Open Europe lobbies actively on European issues through critical comment, a daily press summary highlighting almost every derogatory news item available, media appearances, op-ed articles and participation in events.

The torrent of negative comment raised my interest to find out what Open Europe is lobbying for, in other words what the “reformed” European Union would look like.

I found a web document called Our vision. When I asked, Open Europe admitted that they do not have one document that sets out their reform agenda in one place. However, for specific reform proposals they recommended Chapter 5 of their publication Out of control? Measuring a decade of EU regulation and The European Parliament – What does it do and how does it affect your everyday life?



Every member state has signed up to the aim of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe. This aim is the first one stated in the preamble of the Treaty establishing the European Community (since the Treaty of Rome, 1957, EEC Treaty). Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union sets out that the establishment of the EU marks a new step in the process of creating this closer union among the peoples of Europe.

The process and the direction are clear, but the treaties do not spell out the speed or the ultimate goals (finalité) of European integration.

Since I am primarily interested in the overall vision of Open Europe, Our vision remains the main source for assessing their alternative vision. For systematic reasons, I will choose the order of the issues and the comments.

Main aim

By calling for a flexible European Union, based on voluntary cooperation, Open Europe rejects the basic aim of the treaties, at least for the United Kingdom.

It looks hard to reconcile a repudiation of an organisation’s main aims with continued membership. The logical option would be for Britain to withdraw from the European Union.

Practical alternatives


Open Europe sees that the current process of integration leads to failure, deadlock and crisis. The UK (and other member states) could seek a looser relationship with the centre - for example replacing their current mode of membership by free trade and single market agreements with the other member states.

Logically, the “looser relationship” would mean secession.

This option would be clear-cut, with participation in the single market through international agreements with the European Union (member states). The models already exist.

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway together with the 27 EU member states form the European Economic Area (EEA), which allows them access to the internal market as well as the option to participate in EU programmes of choice. (In addition, they are part of the Schengen area of free travel and common controls at the external borders.)

Then there is the Swiss model, marginally more independent. Switzerland concludes bilateral agreements with the European Union (including Schengen).

The drawback of both models is that the outsiders can mainly accept (or reject) what the European Union has cooked up. They can influence outcomes through consultation and lobbying, but they are not present when the EU institutions reach the internal outcomes.

In my opinion, Open Europe needs to do much more to indicate the course of action to take and to assess the consequences if Britain withdraws from the European Union, which would be the logical option considering its rejection of the basic treaty aims.

Dismantled EU

Open Europe’s other option is that the EU as a whole could be restructured to accommodate different members’ conflicting interests.

Apart from a minimum core of common rules, participation in EU policies should be voluntary. The less integrationist member states should not stop groups of other countries from pursuing deeper integration among themselves within the EU framework.

Countries would be allowed to opt in or out of: the common foreign and security policy; border control; justice and home affairs legislation; the CAP and CFP; cross-Europe emissions trading; external aid and other EU spending policies (e.g. on research). It would also mean allowing member states to take back control of regional aid and to repeal some legislation which is currently tacked inappropriately onto the internal market (like the Working Time Directive).

In my view, Open Europe’s view of the future European Union is incompatible with the aim to achieve ever closer union, under the existing treaties, as expressed by the timid reforms in the Treaty of Lisbon and especially with regard to the global challenges of the 21st century. Beyond the Lisbon Treaty, a unified foreign and security policy, including a future common defence, are prerequisites for Europe as an influential actor on the global stage. Effective powers require democratic government at EU level. Economic policy, resources (taxation) and some internal policies need to be strengthened.

But Open Europe’s vision of the dismantled European Union à-la-carte has one redeeming feature, worth further study.

Open Europe recognises that less integrationist countries should not stop (groups of) other countries from pursuing deeper integration within the EU framework. It does, however, raise a number of questions, which need to be addressed.

The European Union is based on international treaties, concluded between the member states, subject to unanimous agreement and ratification by all member states. The powers (competences) of the EU are laid down in these treaties, in some detail.

The enlarged European Union is almost impossible to reform, as shown by the painful road since the Nice summit in December 2000. The proposed reforms (Lisbon Treaty) are at the level of the least reform-minded countries.

Open Europe’s principles of unhindered progress and voluntary participation require new ground rules. In the near future, as long as intergovernmental conferences (with or without conventions) agree on treaty reform, a qualified majority of member states should be allowed to progress, as long as the minority is allowed to opt out of the policy area and future implementation.

It is hard to believe that anti-integrationist countries would abide by a promise to let the majority progress, or that future treaties would be ratified by all member states. Therefore, the European Union would have to agree on coming treaties entering into force among the ratifying states.

It is more natural that the minority opts out, than that the majority is forced to establish special procedures among itself, such as enhanced or permanent structured cooperation. The participating countries would constitute the Council with regard to each policy area. Governance would be messy, but somehow possible.

The supranational institutions of the European Union would, however, give rise to more serious questions. Should the MEPs of the opting-out nations be allowed to legislate on all matters, if their states of origin are exempt from duties pertaining to important policy areas? Should the fringe nations be given the same weight in the Commission, the Court of Justice, the consultative bodies and agencies?

On the other hand, after massive opt-outs some member states would be quick to demand lower contributions to the EU budget.

Open Europe needs to look closer at the implications of a European Union à-la-carte, if it wants to present it as a credible alternative.

Long term, the EU treaties need to be replaced by a basic law, which can be amended at EU level, by democratically legitimate institutions, by qualified majorities. How does Open Europe envision the situation of fringe countries in this context?


Open Europe has been consistently long on critique, but short on constructive proposals. It is high time to set out the alternatives for the United Kingdom (and perhaps some other member states) in much more detail, both secession and some sort of minimal membership, which would satisfy not only British preferences but the aspirations of the European mainstream.

Ralf Grahn

Friday 26 June 2009

European Conservatives: Prague declaration analysis (Part three)

What does the Prague declaration of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG) in the European Parliament tell us about the future policies of the new political group, built around the UK Conservative Party of David Cameron and William Hague (26 MEPs), the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS) of the Kaczynski twins (15 MEPs) and the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Mirek Topolanek (formerly Vaclav Klaus) (9 MEPs), with a fluctuating number of individual representatives from other member states?

The ECRG has presented ten short principles. The part looked at the preamble. The second part presented the principles from 1 to 5, and this third part contains the remaining principles, one at a time, with subjective comments.


NATO first

6. The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.


The plethora of common interests between the United States and the European Union – values, trade, foreign, security and defence – are reduced and made subservient to the defence alliance NATO, although the US needs a coherent Europe to deal with in all mutual areas and as an ally in the world. Despite the importance of NATO, the US has more pressing global challenges to think about, and twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union it has a right to expect that the EU will be able to defend itself in most conceivable situations before long.

The ECRG says nothing about developing the foreign, security and defence policy, or the common defence, of the European Union. The most fundamental challenges for the EU are left unanswered (but the UK Conservatives’ European Election Manifesto was outright hostile towards the timid Lisbon Treaty reforms in the foreign policy area.)

My reading is that it is an error to do anything to keep the UK within the European Union based on its foreign policy influence or military capabilities, as long as Britain is opposed to using them for the common good.

Young democracies need support, from Morocco to Murmansk, but the crux of the matter is how we are going to achieve coherent and cohesive European Union action with regard to the Eastern Partnership, the Union for the Mediterranean or Russia. The sovereign integrity of each EU member state is a recipe for disaster.


Immigration control

7. Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures


Improved immigration control and asylum procedures seem to be in line with the EU’s aims under the Hague Programme and the future Stockholm Programme on justice and home affairs (area of freedom, security and justice).

Given the participating parties, it is surprising thing that the European Conservatives mention these policies in a document on the European Union. Great Britain has opted out of the Schengen area of free internal travel and external border control. Under the Lisbon Treaty Britain would opt out of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and together with Poland from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights containing the guiding values with regard to individuals.

The ECRG parties are hardly the ones most famous for promoting effective, but fair responses to the common challenges of migration and asylum.


Public services

8. Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of both rural and urban communities.


Who could oppose such gifted platitudes?



9. An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU funds.


Who could oppose such gifted platitudes?


Equality of member states

10. Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old, large and small.


Who could oppose such gifted platitudes?


The European Conservatives are potential saboteurs in the evolving foreign, security and defence area. They are hardly credible as European reformers in the area of freedom, security and justice, either.

With almost nothing to give, it remains a mystery why they don’t act forcefully for their countries to withdraw from the European Union.

Ralf Grahn

European Conservatives: Prague declaration analysis (Part two)

What does the Prague declaration of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG) in the European Parliament tell us about the future policies of the new political group, built around the UK Conservative Party of David Cameron and William Hague (26 MEPs), the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS) of the Kaczynski twins (15 MEPs) and the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Mirek Topolanek (formerly Vaclav Klaus) (9 MEPs), with a fluctuating number of individual representatives from other member states?

The ECRG has presented ten short principles. The previous post looked at the preamble. Now we present the principles, one at a time, with subjective comments.


Free enterprise

1. Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.


Conspicuously absent is any mention of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, the main aim of European integration since the Treaty of Rome (EEC Treaty) more than 50 years ago; thus, an objective every member state has embraced when joining the European Communities or the European Union. The ECRG rejects the basic tenet of the European Community (European Union).

Free enterprise is but an unnamed part of the European Community task to promote a harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities and a high level of employment and of social protection. In the Treaty of Lisbon this has been defined as a highly competitive social market economy. The ECRG does not pay even lip service to the European Community’s (European Union’s) concept of a social market economy.

The member states form a customs union and they are treaty bound to contribute to the harmonious development of world trade, the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade and the lowering of customs barriers. The ECRG’s aim to promote free and fair trade is compatible with the stated aims of the EC (EU), and the ECRG is probably a force for positive change with regard to foot-dragging member states.

Free and fair competition is in line with the EC (EU) aim to ensure competition in the internal market.

Minimal national regulation has contributed to burdening taxpayers with trillions of debt because of reckless financial institutions and failing regulators, so the minimal regulation credo seems to come from the backbone of Conservative thought rather than from the brain.

The huge socialised liabilities caused by the financial mess and the economic downturn undermine the credibility of the call for lower taxation. Add the rising burdens of ageing societies, and lower taxation (a national competence) turns intellectually dishonest.

Small government is a populist and reductionist view of the public sector. I would prefer smart government, i.e. effective and efficient.

Individual freedom seems to be designed for the privileged, and the ECRG makes no effort to indicate how their (national) prosperity would benefit society as a whole.

All in all, there is nothing compassionate about this brand of Conservatism, and precious little to place it near the European mainstream of socially responsible government.



2. Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater democratic accountability.


Freedom of the individual seems to be rooted in the absence of government action, and more personal responsibility looks like the free choice to sink or swim without societal help. Most Nordic Conservatives would see these unadorned principles as callous, because they lack any reference to the wellbeing of society as a whole.

If the ECRG is interested in a rounded and modern message on EU citizens’ rights, it should promote the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

There is no attempt to explain where and how of greater democratic accountability.


Energy security

3. Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.


The energy policy targets are crucial and commendable, but much more is needed to make them into viable policies.



4. The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.


Is this a sop to the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS), a tacit approval of its Catholic agenda against deviants?



5. The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.


The ECRG does not use the words nationalism or nationalistic, but that is what the sovereign integrity of the nation state indicates as their ideological backbone.

Anti-federalism further underlines the commitment to solve European level and global problems at national level.

Every EU legislative proposal is screened with regard to subsidiarity and proportionality, so this is the third phrasing in one sentence of a minimalist view of the role of the European Union.


This far, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG) could contribute to the European Union’s aims with regard to international trade and competition in the internal market, although they reject the consensus on economic and social policy.

On the other hand, the European Conservatives reject the basic aim of European integration and they prefer nationalism to common procedures and solutions. They offer no promise of a European Union able to speak with one voice on the global stage. Their minimalist message is not only anti-federalist, but against European mainstream political thought.

In the third part we look at the remaining principles of the European Conservatives. (It is better to leave out the Reformists, when revisionists would be more apt.)

Ralf Grahn

Thursday 25 June 2009

European Conservatives: Prague declaration analysis (Part one)

What do we know about the politics of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG) in the European Parliament?

The strongest manifestation is the establishment of the new political group, built around the UK Conservative Party of David Cameron and William Hague (26 MEPs), the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS) of the Kaczynski twins (15 MEPs) and the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Mirek Topolanek (formerly Vaclav Klaus) (9 MEPs), with a fluctuating number of individual representatives from other member states.

The Tories and the ODS left the EPP-ED group, the home of the mainstream group of the European People’s Party (EPP) and the sub-group European Democrats (ED). The divorce from the European mainstream is accentuated by the new union with the nationalist and populist PiS on the fringes.

Prague declaration

There is not much to go on with regard to policies, but the three main parties have agreed on some common principles, the so called Prague declaration.

Let us look at the declaration and provide some subjective comment on its contents.



The Prague declaration of principles of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament

Conscious of the urgent need to reform the EU on the basis of Eurorealism, openness, accountability and democracy, in a way that respects the sovereignty of our nations and concentrates on economic recovery, growth and competitiveness, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group shares the following Principles: …


The euphemism Euroskeptic is mainly used by people who oppose European integration and in many cases propose breaking up the European Union, or at least their country’s secession from the EU. Anti-EU and anti-European are preferable terms.

Eurorealism is seen as a softer version of anti-EU action. European integration as a process leading to closer political union is rejected. Dismantling parts of the institutional EU and repatriating some powers to the member states are distinct possibilities. This is the first – and key – auto-definition of the ECRG.

Without using the word, the ECRG defines itself as nationalist, because the Eurorealism, openness, accountability and democracy it mentions as the cornerstones of EU reform are all subject to the respect of the sovereignty of their nations, i.e. the member states.

The political scope of the “reformed” European Union is practically reduced to the economic area: economic recovery, growth and competitiveness.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. The European Citizen has written a thoughtful blog post on the new political group: The European Conservatives and Reformists (24 June 2009).

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Regards-citoyens: Quality Euroblog

Here is a recommendation to those who want to read quality posts (in French) on European, international and French political and legal issues: Regards-citoyens.

The blog is run by a collective and frequently updated. The posts are well documented.

Here is a sample of the latest posts:

• "Les Européens peuvent-ils encore imprimer leur marque au nouveau concept stratégique de l’OTAN ?", par Olivier Jehin (Agence Europe)
• Puissance et intelligence, par Pierre Lacoste
• Vers une nouvelle architecture institutionnelle transatlantique ? par Jolyon Howorth
• Comment les européens et les partenaires internationaux de la France vont-ils interprêter la nomination de Pierre Lellouche au poste de secrétaire d'Etat aux affaires européennes ?
• France / Remaniement ministériel
• Considérations sur les questions que le Conseil européen n'a pas tranchée, par Ferdinando Riccardi
• Communauté européenne : Rapport 2009 sur les finances publiques: une relance budgétaire était nécessaire pour soutenir l'économie, mais son succès dépend d'une stratégie crédible de sortie d
• La compétence de l’Union en matière d'action extérieure (y inclus la PESC) selon le Traité de Lisbonne
• Les coopérations " spécialisées " : une voie de progrès pour la construction européenne (2)
• Les coopérations " spécialisées " : une voie de progrès pour la construction européenne (1)


The only disturbing aspect is the lack of description of the aims of the blog and the team behind it (impressum). There is no reason to be ashamed or even modest about either.

Ralf Grahn

European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG)

The UK Conservatives have announced the establishment of a new political group in the European Parliament: the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECRG).

At least the following Euroblogs have commented: Jon Worth, Nosemonkey, Julien Frisch, Coulisses de Bruxelles and La Oreja de Europa.


At the latest count the new group seems to have 56 MEPs, and it may pick up a few more before the inaugural session of the EP on 14 July 2009. The ECRG will probably be the fourth largest group in numbers.

There is no group in the European Parliament with enough votes to amend legislation on its own, so a majority of the component members (736) has to be sought over party lines. These coalitions will be formed among the four groups in the European mainstream.

According to the Wikipedia article European Parliament election, 2009 these probable groups and sizes are the following (latest update 23 June 2009):

• European People’s Party (EPP) 263

• Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (PASD) 183

• Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) 82

• European Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA) 53

The European Parliament is going to function through the mainstream groups. The British voters have backed only 29 MEPs (out of 72) who will exert real influence by sitting in the groups with power.

Opposition groups to the left and the right of the European mainstream will be able to table and to air their alternative proposals, or vote with the majority, but they are going to remain marginal.

British business interests and the US administration have seen the first omens of a future Conservative government led by David Cameron and William Hague.


By the way: Looking at the make-up, the addition of the word “Reformists” to the name of the ECRG expresses a profound sense of humour.

Ralf Grahn

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Swedish EU Council Presidency programme

Sweden has published the Work programme for the Swedish Presidency of the EU 1 July --- 31 December 2009.

As an overview, here are the contents of the 46 page work programme:

Table of contents

Taking on the challenge

1. Economy and employment - EU emerges stronger from the economic crisis

2. Climate – a new climate agreement in place

3. Justice and Home Affairs – a Stockholm Programme that safeguards security and the rights of individuals

4. The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea, a cleaner marine environment and a more competitive region

5. The EU, its neighbourhood and the world

6. New Parliament, Commission and Treaty of Lisbon

Priorities within each Council configuration

1. Horizontal issues for a better EU
GAERC – General affairs

2. The EU as a global actor
GAERC - External relations

3. Reversing economic developments
ECOFIN – the Economic and Financial Affairs Council

4. A more secure and open Europe
Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA)

5. Full employment and good health
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO)

6. A competitive Europe
Competitiveness Council

7. Towards an eco-efficient economy
Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE)

8. Using resources without using them up
Agriculture and Fisheries Council

9. A credible EU for the environment
Environment Council

10. High standards promote better growth
Education, Youth and Culture Council

Annex: Planned meetings of the Council during the Swedish Presidency of the EU

Ralf Grahn