Federal Council’s Committee on Legal Affairs Considers Consent to Nuclear Extension Necessary

According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Federal Council considered the Council’s consent to the nuclear power extension necessary.

The Bundestag (German parliament) recently approved the nuclear power extension without requesting the Federal Counsel’s consent.

Whether the Federal Council, the legislative body that represents the Länder (German states) on the federal level, has to consent to the nuclear power extension, has been a very controversial topic. After the loss of the CDU/FDP majority in the state election in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2009, the CDU, CSU and FDP coalition in Berlin under Chancellor Angela Merkel no longer has a majority in the Federal Council.

In a decision taken yesterday, nine Länder voted in favour of a consent requirement, six against and one state, the CDU/FDP ruled Schleswig-Holstein abstained. The nine states in favour of the motion included not only states led by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), but also Hamburg, which is run by a coalition government of Christian Democrats (CDU) and Greens, as well as Saarland which is ruled by a CDU, Green and Liberal Democrat (FDP) coalition, FAZ says. The paper points out that the decision is not legally binding, but shows the amount of uncertainty over the matter.

Interestingly, on 5 November 2010 the Bundesrat itself had rejected a proposed resolution that, among other things, would have stated that the extension of the operating times required the consent of the Bundesrat.

Meanwhile the opposition is preparing to challenge the laws amending the Atomic Energy Act (AtG) with two proceedings on the constitutionality of the statutes. One shall be submitted on behalf of the members of Bundestag, the other on behalf  of the SPD led states. According to FAZ, the complaint shall also raise the issues of safety standards, the unresolved issue of a permanent waste disposal site and the lack of involvement of the Federal Council. However, the opposition wants to await the decision by Federal President Christian Wulff on the matter, FAZ says.

It is undisputed that the Federal President has a formal right to review whether the two amending laws have been passed in accordance with the constitution. Whether he also has a material right of verification is disputed. During Mr Wulff’s time as state premier of Lower-Saxony, the state chancellery came to the conclusion that the Federal Council had to consent, SPD members point out.

In any event, the nuclear power extension issue is on the agenda of the Bundesrat for its 877th session on 26 November 2010.

Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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