The Federal Government must inform Parliament in EU matters “comprehensively and at the earliest possible time” – that’s what the Basic Law says. In practice, this is always a source of controversy.

The Basic Law obliges the federal government to inform the Bundestag as early as possible on EU matters – but does this also apply to defense and security policy issues?

The factions of the Greens and Left want to have this clarified by the Federal Constitutional Court. Against the background of the refugee crisis, they each filed a lawsuit against the federal government in Karlsruhe in 2015. The Second Senate is now discussing it today.

EU-Operation «Sophia» im Fokus

Both lawsuits relate to the now expired EU operation “Sophia” against smugglers in the Mediterranean. The Greens and the Left complain that the federal government had not passed on the draft for a concept before the decision was made by the Council of the EU Member States on May 18, 2015. The left faction is also concerned with an EU/Turkey summit at the end of November 2015. In this context, a letter from the then Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) was not made available to them.

The military operation in the Mediterranean was directed against smugglers who sent migrants from the Libyan coast on the life-threatening journey towards Europe. The Bundeswehr was involved until mid-2019 and had rescued more than 22,000 people from distress at sea. Operation Eunavfor Med was named after a Somali girl who was born on board a German naval ship in August 2015: Sophia. The summit with Turkey was about limiting the entry of Syrian refugees into Europe.

Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Bundestag and Bundesrat participate in matters relating to the European Union. And further: “The federal government has to inform the Bundestag and the Bundesrat comprehensively and at the earliest possible time.”

The Greens’ lawsuit was successful

The Greens faction has already sued successfully in Karlsruhe. It was not until spring 2021 that the constitutional judges insisted that the federal government get the Bundestag on board in good time before important decisions were made. At that time it was about the line of negotiations before decisive meetings with the euro partners at the height of the Greek crisis in 2015. This affected the Bundestag’s responsibility for the budget.

This time the judges want to clarify whether Article 23 also applies to questions of common security and defense policy. In addition, it should be about the limits of the obligation to inform in individual cases, as they announced in April. Experience has shown that the verdict will be announced a few months later. (Az. 2 BvE 3/15 and others)