On May 8, 1949, Germany’s Basic Law (Grundgesetz) was adopted, laying the fundament for its constitution – and democracy. In times of rising populism in Europe, it’s a 70th birthday worth celebrating beyond the German frontiers.
Learning from the collapse of the Weimar Republic and Nazism, the text puts the protection of fundamental freedoms first, while the Federal Republic was to become the antithesis to the Nazi state. The Basic Law provided – and still provides – an efficient and time-proof framework for this.
During the Cold War, the Basic Law became something like a secular state religion for many West Germans. The long and tormenting confrontation over nation and nationalism, about the German identity and whether the political context that led to the concentration camps was ‘typically German’ shaped the general debate in the Federal Republic for a long time.
The notion of German patriotism was being questioned and confronted with that of ‘Verfassungspatriotismus’, which can be translated into ‘constitutional patriotism’. Many parts of German society took the values embedded and protected by the Basic Law as evidence. Many no longer defined Germany with history or culture, but rather with the Basic Law.
Today, many discussions on television, columns, op-eds, debates suggest that Germany – and Europe – stand in front of an abyss and that the constitution is seriously endangered. However, the sole fact that every ten years Germany celebrates its ‘Grundgesetz’ shows just how stable the country is – and how fundamental the Basic Law turned out to be in protecting that stability.
The Grundgesetz used to have Article 23, which provided the legal framework for the completion of the unification of the two German states. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, there is no such Article 23, of course. Instead, the revised Article 23 puts Europe centre stage:
Not only does it stipulate that Europe is part of Germany’s identity, but it also underlines the importance of the values promoted by the Basic Law for Europe. And that’s something worth keeping in mind before going to the polls on 26 May, in Germany and beyond.
The challenge of new technologies for road safety
CITA, under the patronage of Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, invites you to its new event in Brussels, next 16 May 2019. The discussion is centered on how to improve road safety, the challenges for the testing and certification of new technologies and vehicles, in order to make them safe and secure during the complete life cycle.
By Alexandra Brzozowski
Uff! US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cancelled a planned visit to Berlin at short notice over ‘pressing issues’. Another crack in the two country’s transatlantic relationship?
Only hours before, in Finland, Pompeo lashed out against Russia’s ‘aggressive’ behaviour in the Arctic and China’s work in the region which according to him needs to be watched closely.
Turkey’s High Election Board has ordered a re-run of Istanbul’s mayoral elections, accepting the ruling AK Party’s objection 36 days after a stunning opposition victory. The latter now cries ‘dictatorship’.
Premiere! A Polish NGO has filed a lawsuit against media giant Facebook, following concerns that the organisation’s freedom of speech was stymied on the platform.
EURACTIV’s Senior Editor Georgi Gotev received some congratulations from Commission President Juncker today, on the occasion of the veteran reporter’s birthday.
Speaking of Poland, Commission boss President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was “totally unacceptable” to link fellow top EU official, Donald Tusk, with tyrants Stalin and Hitler, as has been done by Polish state TV.
Although they elected an ardent defender of Europe as their president, French people are poorly mobilised on the European elections, where 33 French election lists are set to challenge each other on 26 May.
The EU must counter poisonous populism with a rEUnaissance delivering a new economic and social contract and hope to European citizens, writes European Economic and Social Committee President Luca Jahier.
“The ‘Belt and Road’ cooperation is entering into a new stage,” the Chinese ambassador to the EU Zhang Ming promised, questioning the EU’s reluctance to join China’s massive infrastructure programme.
The OECD defended a larger budget for the EU, saying the bloc’s funding is already “stretched” despite new challenges like digitalisation.
Austria’s chief economist explains how the euro zone debt crisis changed the economic “tool box” of the EU currency and spells out the challenges ahead.
The students striking are heroes, but their moral arguments need to be further developed if they want to reach new audiences, writes Darrick Evensen.
Look out for…
Ahead of the Sibiu Summit on Thursday, Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker touches ground in Romania to participate in a Citizens’ Dialogue, together with the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis.
Views are the author’s
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]