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The German Constitutional Court Says 'Ja Zu Deutschland!'


Daniel Halberstam


University of Michigan Law School

Christoph Möllers


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

November 2, 2009

German Law Journal, Vol. 10, No. 8, 2009
U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 170

Abstract:     
In announcing the decision of the Bundesverfassungsgericht (“Federal Constitutional Court” or “FCC”) on the constitutionality of the Lisbon Treaty, the Presiding Justice of the Second Senate summed up the judgment by proclaiming: “The German Basic Law says “yes” to the Treaty of Lisbon.” The decision initially received praise from commentators for having struck down only the existing version of an accompanying federal law while preserving Germany’s ratification of the Treaty more broadly. The decision has thus been likened to the FCC’s 1992 decision upholding the German ratification of the Maastricht Treaty.

This short comment explains what is old and what is new about the FCC’s current decision about Europe. The comment exposes the FCC’s highly deceptive invocation of having taken a “Europe-friendly” stance in interpreting the German Basic Law. The discussion exposes the myriad contradictions within the opinion and the decision’s strange consequences both in terms of the concrete workings of the European Union and in terms of its grand theory of democracy. The comment highlights the FCC’s mistaken understanding of the European Parliament, the profound failure of the Court’s reflexive idea of state sovereignty, and the way in which the opinion condemns Europe to a perpetual state of deficiency. In all this, the Federal Constitutional Court installs itself as the sole arbiter of Germany’s constitutional destiny - even above the people themselves.

A subversive opinion with more twists and turns than even the FCC itself comprehends, the decision ultimately stands as a crude speech act asserting little more than the power of the Court itself.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 14

Keywords: Lisbon Treaty, European Union, Germany, German Federal Constitutional Court, constitutionalism

JEL Classification: K33

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Date posted: November 2, 2009 ; Last revised: November 15, 2009

Suggested Citation

Halberstam, Daniel and Möllers, Christoph, The German Constitutional Court Says 'Ja Zu Deutschland!' (November 2, 2009). German Law Journal, Vol. 10, No. 8, 2009; U of Michigan Public Law Working Paper No. 170. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1498527

Contact Information

Daniel Halberstam (Contact Author)
University of Michigan Law School ( email )
625 South State Street
342 Hutchins Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
734-763-4408 (Phone)
734-763-9375 (Fax)
Christoph Möllers
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin ( email )
Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, D-10099
Germany
+ 49 (0) 30 2093 3585 (Phone)
+ 49 (0) 30 2093 3307 (Fax)
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin ( email )
WallotstraBe 19
14193 Berlin
United States
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