Volume 46 (2009) / Issue 6
In its judgment on the Lisbon Treaty, the German constitutional court presents a comprehensive assessment of European integration. While the evaluation of the Lisbon Treaty assumes a prominent role, many considerations are meant to have a lasting impact on the European project. The judgment should therefore be read as the overture to future debates, not an epilogue on the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Its immediate outcome concerns future adjustments of primary law, to which the German parliament will have to consent. More important will be the Court’s involvement: any future Treaty revision will be scrutinized whether it establishes European federal statehood – a move which only the German people may authorize, probably by means of a constitutional referendum. In a similar vein, the leitmotiv of sovereignty statehood guides the demotion of the European Parliament as a source of direct democratic legitimacy and the identification of national reserve powers which cannot be transferred to the European level. Among European lawyers and practitioners the Court’s claim as the ultimate arbiter of European law will draw continued attention. The Lisbon judgment reaffirms the potential ultra vires review of EU law and establishes the necessary respect for German constitutional identity as an additional control standard. Its resolute language and thinly veiled warnings underline the Court’s self-esteem as an influential voice in European affairs. National parliaments in other Member States will also take note. The importance of competences for national identity remains an issue at every Treaty revision.
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