Ex-minister to take case if Germans denied bailout vote

Fri, Apr 13, 2012, 01:00

GERMAN PARTICIPATION in the European fiscal treaty and EU permanent rescue fund (ESM) could be delayed with news that a former government minister is to launch a constitutional complaint.

Dr Herta Däubler-Gmelin, justice minister in the first cabinet of Gerhard Schröder, has said she will take a case to the constitutional court in Karlsruhe unless German voters are given a chance to decide on the issues at stake in a referendum.

She said the ESM bailout fund “crossed a red line” and undermined the competences of national parliament to decide on national budgets.

“There are two eye-catching points with the ESM: for one thing it can’t be ended, for another the European Commission and European Council gain powers over national budgets without involvement of the European or national parliaments,” said Dr Däubler-Gmelin. This would have the effect of diluting voter influence on economic and social policy in Europe.

“I’m convinced we will have a good chance with our case. I am all for more Europe, just not one determined by political elites.”

Besides her case two other ESM/fiscal treaty challenges are likely in Germany: from the Left Party, as well as from Bavarian MP Peter Gauweiler, who challenged the Nice and Lisbon treaties.

The ESM is scheduled to begin work in July.

Dr Däubler-Gmelin is a member of the organisation “More Democracy”; it announced yesterday that it would file a complaint in Karlsruhe after the Bundestag votes ratifying the ESM and fiscal treaty, scheduled for June.

The announcement brings to a head months of discussion about how the Karlsruhe judges will view the fiscal treaty and ESM.

In its Lisbon Treaty ruling, the court warned that European integration could not continue indefinitely on its current path without a new form of pan-European sovereignty and democratic legitimation to replace rights lost at national level.

This has spurred a debate about whether Germany’s postwar Basic Law has been overtaken by integration and whether a new constitution is required.

Dr Däubler-Gmelin resigned as justice minister in 2002 after suggesting the looming Iraq war was an effort by then US president George Bush to distract from domestic problems, a strategy she said had once been used successfully by Adolf Hitler.

She denied comparing Mr Bush to Hitler, only his methods, then later denied making the remarks at all before finally leaving Mr Schröder’s cabinet.