German MP Calls for EU Referendum
By Kate Connolly in Berlin
Last Updated: 1:13am BST 22/04/2005
The European Union constitution faces a legal challenge in Germany's highest court after an MP questioned the Berlin government's refusal to call a treaty referendum.
Peter Gauweiler, of the Bavarian-based Christian Social Union, who will make his case to the constitutional court in Karlsruhe on Monday, claimed that a referendum rather than a vote in parliament should decide the issue.
According to Mr Gauweiler, whose case is being brought by a constitutional expert, Karl Albrecht Schlachtschneider, a bundestag vote on the charter, rather than a vote by the people, contravenes Germany's ''basic law'' or constitution.
"The bundestag cannot give away to the EU more rights than it has itself. Such a far-reaching constitutional law can only be based on a referendum of the German people," he said yesterday in a statement, which he claimed had the backing of many other MPs.
Prof Schlachtschneider has be reported as saying that the EU charter goes beyond the limits set by Germany's constitutional court in a ground-breaking 1993 ruling on the institution's Maastricht treaty.
The German government, has ruled out a referendum, arguing that Germany's basic law does not allow for one. Referenda are banned in Germany due to the perception that they allowed Hitler to change the law in his quest for power.
• French opposition to the European Union constitution soared to its highest point yesterday as a new poll showed that 58 per cent of prospective voters in a referendum next month would reject the treaty.