Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2009

The Judgement of the German Constitutional Court on the Lisbon Treaty

Michael Bothe

June 2009

Istituto Affari Internazionali


By its judgment of 30 June 2009, the German Federal Constitutional Court cleared the way for the German ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The reasoning of the Court, however, contains fundamental holdings on the current legal character of the European Union and on constitutional limitations concerning its possible development. The ratification of an international treaty by Germany must be preceded by a parliamentary consent. In the case of the Lisbon treaty, this consent and a number of legislative acts relating to that treaty were challenged before the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC). The basic argument of this challenge was that the Lisbon Treaty went too far in transferring sovereign rights to the European Union, thereby jeopardizing inalienable state sovereignty, the national identity of the German State as guaranteed by the Basic Law (the German constitution) and also the constitutional principle of democracy which required, it was said, a sufficient area of public policy being reserved to parliaments elected only by the German voter.