Expanded cooperation on EU affairs
On Thursday, 28 September 2006, the President of the German Bundestag, Dr. Norbert Lammert, and the Federal Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel, signed an agreement between the Bundestag and the German Federal Government that provides for expanded cooperation in relation to the affairs of the European Union (EU). The agreement had been passed unanimously by the Members of the German Bundestag on Friday, 22 September 2006. It extends the German Federal Government’s duties to report to the Bundestag and streamlines the timetable for their performance, shortens the periods allowed for the presentation of reports by the federal ministries on EU items and requires that more detailed information be supplied on the meetings of the councils of ministers and other bodies.
Opinions delivered by the Bundestag must be taken into consideration by the German Federal Government in its negotiations at the EU level. In certain circumstances, the Federal Government is even obliged to lodge a parliamentary scrutiny reservation, which delays the negotiations on a matter until it has been debated by the Bundestag. Furthermore, the Federal Government may only make decisions that deviate from the opinions of the Bundestag for “compelling reasons related to foreign policy or integration policy issues”.
The extension and consolidation of parliamentary rights
Parliament had called for the extension and consolidation of its rights in relation to the German Federal Government in the spring of 2005, when the ratification of the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe was being considered. Shortly after the beginning of the 16th electoral term, the chairman, deputy chairman and parliamentary group spokespersons of the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union met with representatives of the German Federal Government, Günter Gloser, the Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, and Peter Hintze, the Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry of Economics and Technology. Before the 2006 summer recess, they presented a draft agreement that was approved by the Federal Cabinet on 19 July 2006 and passed by the Bundestag on 22 September 2006. The agreement entered into force once it had been signed by the President of the German Bundestag and the Federal Chancellor, then published in the Federal Law Gazette.