Notions of the German Federal Constitutional Court on certain aspects of European integration

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Author: Yana Lebedeva

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2023-4-76-92

Keywords: constitutional law; constitutional control; Federal Constitutional Court of Germany; national identity; European Union; EU Charter of Fundamental Rights; Court of Justice of the European Union


Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) plays an important role in interpreting the national constitution’s provisions for participation in the European integration process. The first category of cases that were considered by the Constitutional Court in the 1970s and 1980s were cases related to problems of human rights protection in acts adopted by institutions of the European Communities. According to the position of the FCC, the progressive development of integration law should not lead to a decrease in the standards of protection of the rights of German citizens provided by its Basic Law. The adoption of the EU Council Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant in 2002, stipulating minimum guarantees of the rights of accused and convicted persons during extradition, led to the resumption of the FCC’s control over the observance of human rights. Since the 1990s, the Constitutional Court has considered issues related to the procedure for and limits of the transfer of Germany’s sovereign powers to the European Union. These limits apply to decisions which cannot be made at the supranational level because they are governed by fundamental political and constitutional features, namely, the federal, legal and democratic nature of the German state. In modern legal discourse, these features are covered by the concept of constitutional identity. The Constitutional Court intends to decide whether the acts of EU institutions violate the constitutional identity of Germany until the Union has fulfilled its obligations to respect national identity provided by EU constituent treaties. Since 2019 the FCC has, on its own, evaluated EU legal acts for compliance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Many problematic issues have emerged as to the scope of the Charter and the FCC’s consolidation of its own position with the EU Court’s interpretation of the Charter in light of provisions of constitutional acts of other Member States and of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. However, the desire of the German Constitutional Court to act as a full-fledged participant in this judicial dialogue should be supported.

About the author: Yana Lebedeva – Research Fellow of the Human Rights Department of the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Lebedeva Ya. (2023). Pozitsii Federal’nogo konstitutsionnogo suda Germanii v otnoshenii otdel’nykh aspektov evropeyskoy integratsii [Notions of the German Federal Constitutional Court on certain aspects of European integration]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 76–92. (In Russian).


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