News reporting on the ratification troubles of the Lisbon Treaty mention small countries as being the only location of the Treaty’s troubles. This is not the case. Italy and Germany both are having problems, as well as the ones they admit to – Poland, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, and Ireland of course.
Italy’s problems with ratification are simple to explain. The Northern League, key government coalition partners, will not support Berlusconi’s attempts at ratification. They are demanding a referendum.
Germany’s ‘troubles’ are more technical in nature, but nonetheless equally potentially fatal to the prospects for the ratification of the Treaty.
This report from the European Foundation explains the situation well –
The veteran Eurosceptic Bavarian politician, Peter Gauweiler, has lodged an appeal with the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe against ratification. The move followed the decision by the German Bundesrat or Federal Council – the Upper House of the German Parliament – to ratify the Treaty, a decision which completed the parliamentary process. All that remains now is for the President of the Federal Republic of Germany to sign the instrument of ratification – and this is what Gauweiler wants to prevent.
Gauweiler is assisted (and indeed formally represented) in his court action by Karl-Albrecht Schachtschneider, Professor of law at the University of Nuremberg-Erlangen. Schachtschneider has helped organise several previous appeals to the court, notably against the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and of course against the Constitution in 2005. The previous appeals have had considerable success; the Maastricht appeal led to a significant restriction on transfers of power from Germany to the EU.
This new appeal is based on a long legal opinion delivered by a professor of law at the University of Freiburg, Dr Dietrich Murswiek. The basis of the claim is that the Lisbon Treaty is substantially the same as the defunct European Constitution and that it deprives German citizens of their fundamental political rights by fatally weakening their representation by the German Bundestag. Gauweiler’s and Schachtschneider’s appeal against the Constitution was successful, in the sense that the Constitutional Court succeeded in preventing the German President from signing the text, on the basis that it had in any case by then been rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands.
The appeal argues that the Treaty creates a de facto federal state with its own source of authority. Such a step, the claimants argue, can occur only on the basis of a referendum by the various peoples of Europe. The claimants argue especially that the Treaty contains a mechanism (Article 48, paragraph 6) by which the EU can change its own procedures without referring back to national parliaments, still less electorates. [See http://www.peter-gauweiler.de]
Gauweiler is a member of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian branch of Germany’s Christian Democrats. The CSU is usually considered more right wing than the CDU. But the Left Party in Germany, Die Linke – led by the former Finance Minister, Oskar Lafontaine, and a former member of the East German Communist Party (Socialist Unity Party), Lothar Bisky – is also hostile to Lisbon, which it describes as “neo-liberal and militaristic”. As a result, the Land of Berlin, where it is part of the regional government, was the only Land in Germany not to vote for Lisbon in the Bundesrat. It may launch its own legal appeal against the Treaty.
The economic troubles facing the Eurozone are increasing political opposition to the Euro in Germany, where a growing majority want the return of the D-Mark. If the political movement in Germany away from the EU matched up with Constitutional impossibility for Lisbon, the EU would be shaken to its very foundations.
With an EU founder member, the largest EU nation and most important donor nation getting cold feet, the show would indeed be over.
Is it any wonder that Lisbon-supporters only mention the small nations, leaving people to assume all is well in the large nations? The EU is an empire in denial, with potentially fatal cracks widening to the point of destruction.