German president’s signature delayed once again
By Célia Sampol | Wednesday 28 January 2009
A second appeal was lodged, on 26 January, with Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court with regard to the Lisbon Treaty’s conformity with the country’s basic law. But the content of the complaint is very general, so much so that its aim may be to delay President Horst Köhler’s signing of the law ratifying the treaty a little longer.
Four people with neoliberal tendencies – lawyer Markus Kerber, former chairman of the Board of Directors of Thyssen Dieter Spethmann, former EPP-ED MEP Franz Ludwig Graf Stauffenberg and economist Joachim Starbatty - are behind the appeal. Their petition is linked to the judgement delivered by the court in the early 1990s when it concluded that the Maastricht Treaty was in conformity with the country’s basic law and that it would not damage national sovereignty. In a declaration published in the German press, the plaintiffs regard this judgement as erroneous because European integration has led to infringements of the stability pact, to the European Commission going beyond its powers and to a dissolution of the separation of powers. In their view, the Lisbon Treaty will be even worse and will further reinforce this tendency such that the court cannot consider it as constitutionally valid.
According to a German source at the European Parliament, the terms of this appeal are “very general” and “it is not certain that the court will accept it”. The aim could be simply to delay the approval of the law ratifying the treaty by the president. The law was adopted by the lower chamber of the parliament (the Bundestag), on 24 April 2008, and by the upper chamber (Bundesrat), on 23 May. The head of state was then expected to add his final signature to the text but an appeal to the Constitutional Court was filed by the CSU MP Peter Gauweiler for allegedly doing damage to the protection of citizens’ fundamental rights. This case is due to be concluded in February.
Officially, the president was not obliged to wait for the court’s ruling to sign the treaty but he preferred to do so to avoid any problems. Now, he could end up having to wait for the ruling on the second appeal too, which would delay his signing the law by several months. Such a delay would be a godsend for those opposing the treaty, who hope that Ireland will say ‘no’ in a second referendum due this autumn. At this stage, only the Czech Republic and Ireland have still not ratified the treaty. Polish President Lech Kaczynski has not signed the law ratifying the treaty, which was adopted by the parliament in 2008, either.
The terms of this appeal are “very general” and “it is not certain that the court will accept it,” says an EU source