Europe Insight

Legislative rush

German Interior Minister and Europe Insight argue in absentia about the political response to security challenges

Following a series of terror attacks that had rocked Europe, we wrote that EU countries would respond with another wave of new laws. This was completely predictable simply because they had always acted that way in previous years. We also stressed that such a practice was harmful and paved the way for the endless and groundless expansion of the state and surveillance.

Our article was published on 30 July, and very shortly afterwards, on 11 August, Federal Minister Thomas de Maizière entered into a debate in absentia with us while introducing a plan for ensuring the public security in Germany.

“The political response to Germany’s security challenges and the population’s concern cannot be reduced to a simple ‘We need more new laws’” he said, agreeing with us at first, only to then continue with “At the same time, it would be a mistake to say ‘We do not need more new laws’”.

In his words, security has an influence on various aspects of life and requires, among other things, effective legislation. We fully agree with this view. However, we must notice that Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior is in favour of better laws while not thinking the existing legislative framework to be bad. On the contrary, the existing framework is seen as a source of pride and something that can be shown off to voters. Otherwise it would be hard to explain that an overview of the amendments adopted during this electoral term appeared at the end of the plan.

This results in a paradoxical situation: the current legislation is considered quite good and absolute security to be impossible (as Mr. de Maizière correctly pointed out) while the ministry is proposing additional amendments, the even greater expansion of law enforcement’s role and capacity, and the increased surveillance.

For what?

Taken exclusively, this legislative impulse is of little practical significance. However, the problem is not just in the legislation itself. The issue is that Germany is the leading country in the EU and others see it as an example of efficient and just state management. Its decisions may even be copied by those who have not had any recent similar problems; moreover, they may become the basis for a pan-European initiative which will then affect every single inhabitant of Europe.

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