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Germany top court sides with parliament on financial crisis

The Constitutional Court of Germany [official website, in German] on Tuesday ruled [text, in German] that the Bundestag [official website, in German], the national parliament, has the right to be heard on the European financial crisis. In the case initiated by the Green party [party website, in German], the court held that Chancellor Angela Merkel [official website, in German] failed to notify the parliament early enough about plans for the European Stability Mechanism from its sister party in Austria. The judgment was mainly based on the national constitution which states that the parliament shall have the right to hear matters concerning the EU. Although Tuesday's ruling does not affect Germany's plan of approving the 500 billion euro (USD $632 billion) European Stability Mechanism [text, PDF] next week, it increased the parliament's rights by requiring the chancellor's government to provide notice to the parliament as early as possible in the future. Some have argued that democracy would be strengthened by the decision while others argued that such measures would burden the quick decision-making process to address future financial crises.

A previous ruling that gave the parliament similar rights over matter concerning the EU was issued in February. The country's constitutional court held [JURIST report] that the use of a parliamentary subcommittee to fast-track decisions related to eurozone bailouts is unconstitutional. Rather, it required the entire Bundestag to overview such decisions. In September, the same court ruled [JURIST report] that the parliament did not unconstitutionally impair its own ability to adopt and control the nation's budget, nor did it infringe on the budget autonomy of future parliaments.

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