Angela Merkel hit by court defeat after EU plans were kept secret from Bundestag
Angela Merkel’s speech interrupted at Bundestag
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The judgement goes back to Berlin’s failure to inform parliament in 2015 about its position on Greece’s possible exit from the eurozone. During the euro crisis, then finance minister Wolfgang Schauble raised the possibility of Greece temporarily departing the EU’s single currency bloc should it fail to implement harsh economic reforms. In preparation for a crunch summit, a document was drawn up by the finance ministry in which previous Greek reform proposals were rejected.
Athen’s plans were deemed inadequate and instead a “break” from the eurozone was considered an option.
The papers were sent to the chairman of the Eurogroup of EU finance ministers, other top politicians and EU officials on the eve of the summit.
It was only forwarded to the Bundestag after the gathering had ended.
Germany’s Green party sued in 2015, arguing the finance ministry had not sufficiently informed parliament of the decisions it was making at the EU level.
The outfit complained that the country’s parliament was forced to observe the proceedings from the outside.
Germany’s top court found the impact of the Greek issue on EU integration and Germany’s budget would have been significant.
It ruled that it should have required “particularly intensive involvement of parliament”.
The Karlsruhe-based court said the document should have been handed to MPs before it was passed on to third parties ahead of the summit.
The judgement cements the importance of parliamentary participation in Germany’s EU integration process.
It argued that the EU’s anti-democratic nature was a stumbling block for Germany’s elected legislature.
The decision said: “This poses particular challenges for parliamentary democracy at the national level, because parliament is partially ousted from the role of the central decision-making body.”
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According to the judges, the Bundestag is only in a position to accompany and influence the European integration process if there is sufficient information.
The judges added: “The functional structure of the Basic Law is based on the assumption that the government has a core area of executive self-responsibility, which includes an area of initiative, advice and action that cannot be explored.”
They insisted that only when “internal decision-making” by the federal government is incomplete, there is no need to inform parliament.
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But once the government has made a decision to such an extent it can reveal the plans to a third party, MPs must be informed of the information.
Green MPs Manuel Sarrazin and Sven-Christian Kindler said: “Today’s ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court is a victory for parliamentary democracy.
“We are pleased that we were able to defend the Bundestag’s rights to information and participation against the secrecy and obfuscation tactics of the federal government.”
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