• German Parliament to vote on euro measures, increasing democratic oversight

    The German parliament will on Wednesday (26 October) vote on the government’s negotiating mandate for the eurozone bail-out fund, just hours before Chancellor Angela Merkel is to attend yet another EU crisis summit in the European capital.

     

    It is the first time the Bundestag will vote on the content of a euro-rescue package before the deal is actually sealed among EU leaders. The new powers follow a key ruling by the German constitutional court last month.

    The need for a negotiating mandate approved by the Bundestag was one of the reasons Merkel insisted for another first in EU history: a two-part summit on Sunday and Wednesday.

    Initially, the vote was supposed to be held just in the 41-member budget committee, but Merkel’s own Christian Democrats in the House demanded a full debate and vote early Wednesday.

    The vote will come just ahead of Merkel’s departure to Brussels to attend a meeting with all other 26 EU leaders starting at 5pm, followed by a eurozone-only summit likely to end in the early hours of Thursday morning.

    The Bundestag is seen as unlikely to block the set of measures – an estimated EU-wide bank recapitalisation of €100 billion, a haircut for Greek bondholders of between 50 and 60 percent and a possible expansion of the firepower of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to some €1 trillion – but has irked countries such as Luxembourg, whose premier, Jean-Claude Juncker, criticised Germany for slowing down the decision-making process.

    But to other observers, the improved scrutiny by German MPs is a welcome democratic oversight in a process that has sacrificed transparency and accountability for the sake of the markets.

    “I can’t see this in a negative light because the responsibility of democratically elected MPs to have their say is a very important democratic right that has been underlined several times by the constitutional court in Karlsruhe,” German Green MEP Reinhard Buetikofer said.

    German MPs increased powers over the government’s EU negotiations “will be a change, but not for the worse,” he says, because it will force Merkel to be more transparent.

    “Of course if you have a dictator he can take a decision in a second, but democracy takes time. If there was no scrutiny by national parliaments, these issues would have no democratic oversight whatsoever, and that would be extremely deplorable,” he said.

    The Green MEP, who also sits as an observer in the Bundestag’s EU affairs committee, said he was “confident” the vote would pass on Wednesday, although “nobody should take any parliament for granted.”

    Source: EUobserver, OEIC staff