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Constitutional Reservations against Maastricht Dismissed (November 3, 1993)

The Federal Constitutional Court dismissed the complaint against the Maastricht Treaty filed by four Green members of the European Parliament and Manfred Brunner, the former chairman of the FDP in Bavaria. The complainants had asserted that the treaty violated the principle of state sovereignty. Two days after the treaty was able to take effect in the Federal Republic, the most important parts of the ruling, and the implications thereof, were explained to the federal cabinet in a handout.

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Joint Handout by the German Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Finance for the Cabinet Meeting on November 3, 1993

1. Introduction

The Federal Government welcomes the decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court [Bundesverfassungsgericht, BVerfG] on the constitutionality of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU). It is a pleasing confirmation and encouragement for the policies of the Federal Government.

– The BVerfG declared the TEU constitutional.

– Germany was therefore able to ratify the TEU on October 12, 1993. The deposition of the ratification certificate took place on October 13, 1993. The treaty takes effect on November 1, 1993.

– This paved the way for the development of the Union as provided for in the TEU. The extraordinary EC summit meeting on October 29, 1993, gave the heads of state and government of the member states an opportunity to confirm their desire to actualize the Maastricht Treaty quickly and concretely and to set clear priorities for the near future.

– The court has confirmed that German policy, which has been oriented toward European integration for more than four decades, is constitutional. Germany will continue to be a reliable member of the Community in the future. In close association with its European neighbors, Germany remains a driving force in the development of an ever tighter union of the peoples of Europe on the basis of the constitutional principles of democracy and the rule of law.

2. Ruling on the TEU by the BVerfG

a) On the European Union

The court declared only one constitutional complaint admissible, and only insofar as it was based on a violation of Art. 38 of the Basic Law (democratic legitimation). The court rejected all other constitutional complaints as inadmissible, including those directed against amendments to the Basic Law (Articles 23, 28 Sec. 2, 88 Basic Law) in connection with the law to ratify the treaty.

The court’s expansion of Art. 38 of the Basic Law into the subjective right of an individual to democratic participation constitutes a change.

The court emphasized the important role of the German Bundestag. Because the treaty establishes an association of states, not a European state, the court expects democratic participation in the European Union to be presently guaranteed primarily through the Bundestag. Therefore, the court did not accept the claim of a “democratic deficit” in the Community. At the same time, it pointed out that, with the expansion of the duties and competencies of the Community, there would be a growing need for nationally-mediated legitimation to be complemented by a European Parliament, from which supplemental democratic support for the policies of the European Union would emanate. The court already ascribes the European Parliament a “supportive function” in the present phase.

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