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German constitutional court declines to rule on EU charter

[JURIST] Germany's Federal Constitutional Court [official website, in German] has refused to rule on whether the European Constitution [official website] conforms with the German Constitution until a final decision on its ratification has been made. The German parliament ratified the document last year, but German President Horst Koehler [official website, in German] refused to approve the ratification until the court issued its decision in the case, in which German MP Peter Gauweiler argued that the European document represents an usurpation of the German parliament's powers. The German court, however, ruled Tuesday that the issue was not a priority and deferred its decision until Europe reaches consensus on the document, saying that it didn't want to interfere in the political process [DPA report].

German Chancellor Angela Merkel [official website, in German; BBC profile] has initially said that when Germany takes over the European Union presidency in January 2007, she plans to revive [JURIST report] the European constitution [JURIST news archive] ratification process. In June, Merkel stated that attempts to revive the European Constitution will be delayed until 2008 [JURIST report] and won't occur during Germany's six-month presidency of the European Council as Germany had hoped. European foreign ministers in May said there was little hope [JURIST report] that Germany would be able to achieve substantial progress on ratifying the document during its presidency in the first half of 2007.

Although the EU Constitution requires ratification by all member states, it was rejected by French and Dutch referendums [JURIST reports] in 2005 and ratified by only 14 member states. If enacted, the European Constitution would streamline voting procedure on EU laws, provide for an official EU foreign minister, grant new substantive oversight powers to the European Parliament [official website], create a bill of fundamental rights, and transfer new police and immigration powers to the European Union [official website]. EUobserver.com has more. Die Welt has additional coverage, in German.

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