Supervising Sovereignty: Germany’s Constitutional Court at Work

Building a Smarter German-American Partnership

However long it takes for the Federal Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the end result will be another chapter in the interpretation of Germany’s constitutional principles within the European Union. Ever since its founding, the Court has realized its role as a protector of the democratic process as preserved in the Basic Law. That has included judgments which have affirmed the supremacy of German constitutional law over EU law. In stressing the need for accountability to the democratic process, the Court has continually reminded the Parliament of its responsibilities to maintain sovereignty as found in the national institutions of government. Yet it has also left room to discuss just how that parliamentary control is to be exercised. That has resulted in allowing the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to go forward even in the face of increasing concerns − and law suits − about Germany’s liabilities relating to the euro zone. What and when the Court will decide regarding the ESM is unclear, but there is evidence from past rulings that it will continue to enable the German government to pursue its proclaimed goal of forging “more Europe,” while at the same time stressing the need for rules to strengthen deliberation on European fiscal matters.  Thus, there is continuing debate over the definition of sovereignty and the jurisdiction of the Bundestag in the areas of public finance and taxation within the expanding framework of the European Union. Europe, as always, remains a complicated political, economic and legal construction site.


Further Analysis on the German Constitutional Court’s upcoming ruling

Gebt Souveränität ab!, von Ulrich Wilhelm. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Verfassungsnot!, von Paul Kirchhof. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

He who comes too late is punished by life, by Ulrike Guérot. European Council on Foreign Relations