“It is regrettable that the Federal Constitutional Court is not putting a stop to the provisional application of Ceta in spite of a lack of democratic legitimation,” said Andrej Hunko, deputy chairman and European policy spokesman for the left-wing parliamentary group on Tuesday after the ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe on his party’s complaint against the EU Free trade agreement with Canada.
Specifically, the lawsuit concerned the Bundestag’s rights to participate in the implementation of the agreement. Ceta has been partially in force since 2017, but only in areas where EU jurisdiction is undisputed. The left-wing parliamentary group had accused the Bundestag of merely adopting an opinion on Ceta and no law.
The judges in Karlsruhe rejected the lawsuit on Tuesday as inadmissible. The parliamentary group could not show that its own rights or the rights of the Bundestag had been violated, said Vice-Court President Doris König on Tuesday when the verdict was pronounced.
The left-wing parliamentary group had argued that the Bundestag should have tied the government’s voting behavior in the EU Council to prior statutory authorization. This is the only way to ensure that the EU does not act outside of its competencies. It is also unconstitutional that the opinion drawn up instead does not specify which areas of the agreement should be exempted from provisional application.
The Federal Constitutional Court did not follow this line of argument. An infringement of the law due to a lack of law is ruled out from the outset. Because possibly unconstitutional action would remain unconstitutional even if the German representative in the council had been authorized in advance by a law to agree to this, it was said to justify.
The Bundestag also – unlike the left complained – has taken its responsibility. The MPs had dealt intensively with Ceta. The statement in question contained “recognizable substantive requirements for the participation of the Federal Government in the Council of the European Union”. In this statement in September 2016, the Bundestag, with the votes of the Union and the SPD, allowed the federal government, under certain conditions, to sign the provisional application of Ceta in the EU Council.
After the verdict was pronounced, Hunko commented that it was “unacceptable that the governing coalition, which at the time held around 80 percent of the seats in the Bundestag, violated parliamentary rights in this way and issued a blank check to the federal government.” However, not only the ratification process is a problem, but also the content. »The hope remains that the numerous open lawsuits will lead to the free trade agreement being overturned. Because it represents a serious threat to social, labor and environmental standards. “
The left-wing faction is also suing the federal government for Ceta. The Second Senate will decide on this second complaint and several pending constitutional complaints from other plaintiffs at a later date.
In terms of content, the Greens go along with the criticism of Ceta, but in this lawsuit the party did not share the legal arguments of the left, said Katharina Dröge, Greens spokeswoman for economic policy. But the Greens also consider Ceta to be »politically wrong«. With the unjust rights of action for corporations, it harbors enormous risks for environmental and consumer protection and public budgets. “We therefore reject ratification of the agreement in this form,” said Dröge.
The Just World Trade Network regretted the court’s decision, but referred to the other lawsuits. »If the EU-Canada agreement is ratified in full, the dangerous special rights of action for corporations will come into force. These enable international corporations to sue states for horrendous damages, for example because of environmental or climate regulations, ”says Alessa Hartmann, trade expert at the non-governmental organization Power Shift.
The organizations also criticize the committees set up by Ceta, which are made up of representatives from the EU Commission and Canada. »The Ceta committees can make far-reaching decisions that directly affect millions of citizens – without the EU Parliament or the national parliaments having any say. The decision-making process is also difficult to understand due to a lack of transparency. These are serious democratic deficits, ”says Rauna Bindewald from Foodwatch Germany. The constitutional complaint submitted by Foodwatch, Mehr Demokratie and Campact is whether these committees, as well as corporate rights of action, are at all compatible with the German Basic Law. The Federal Constitutional Court has announced a hearing for the first half of 2021. “There are good reasons to assume that parts of Ceta are not constitutional,” said Sarah Handel, federal board member of Mehr Demokratie.
On Tuesday, the Network for Just World Trade and representatives of the left protested on the Karlsruhe market square. Her motto: “Even the Federal Constitutional Court cannot make a fair trade agreement out of Ceta!”