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Staatenverbund [note 1] is a neologism for a system of multi-level governance in which states work more closely together in a confederation but, unlike a federal state, retain their own sovereignty. The concept is used in Germany to describe the European Union but has no direct equivalent in other languages. In German jurisprudence, a Staatenverbund is a supranational institution that may exercise sovereign acts (laws, coin money, etc.) but may not independently fix areas where it may exercise this power.


This concept was first used in 1992 by German jurist Paul Kirchhof, although its initial meaning was not a legal one.[1] The term became established in the jurisprudence of the German Federal Constitutional Court with its 1993 judgement on the Maastricht Treaty.[1]

Interpretation as a legal term[edit]

Subsequently, the concept has been taken in law and political science—usually without any real awareness of its original meaning[clarification needed]—and was interpreted as the central position between a confederation and a federal form of government.

In the German Constitutional Court ruling on the Lisbon Treaty in June 2009, the concept of Staatenverbund was defined in a more legal framework.[2] Thus, the German Basic Law, article 23 authorizes the Federal Republic of Germany to participate in the building and development of a European Union designed as federation. This concept involves a close and long-term relationship between sovereign states. On the basis of the treaties of the European Union, the Union exercises the authority of government and its basic framework is available only to Member States and their peoples and thus democratic legitimacy can only be done through the citizens of the Member States.

Thus, a Staatenverbund is a supranational institution that may exercise sovereign acts (laws, coin money, etc.) but may not independently fix areas where it may exercise this power. In the EU, this is reflected by the principle of conferral [of powers by member states], according to which the institutions of the European Union may not issue standards unless they are allowed to do so by the EU treaties.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The German term has no equivalent in English though it might partially be translated as "confederation of states".


  1. ^ a b Die demokratische Legitimation der Tätigkeit Internationaler Organisationen (German) (PDF; 899 kB)
  2. ^ "Federal Constitutional Court Press Release No. 72/2009 of 30 June 2009. Judgment of 30 June 2009: Act Approving the Treaty of Lisbon compatible with the Basic Law; accompanying law unconstitutional to the extent that legislative bodies have not been accorded sufficient rights of participation". Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012. Due to this structural democratic deficit, which cannot be resolved in an association of sovereign national states (Staatenverbund), further steps of integration that go beyond the status quo may undermine neither the States' political power of action nor the principle of conferral. The peoples of the Member States are the holders of the constituent power. The Basic Law does not permit the special bodies of the legislative, executive and judicial power to dispose of the essential elements of the constitution, i.e. of the constitutional identity (Article 23.1 sentence 3, Article 79.3 GG). The constitutional identity is an inalienable element of the democratic self-determination of a people.
    The original German uses the word Staatenverbund, which they translate as "association of sovereign states", rather than the word Staatenbund (confederation of states) or Bundesstaat (federal state).
  • This article is partially or entirely translated from the article in German Wikipedia entitled " Staatenverbund " .

Further reading[edit]

  • Auer, Andreas (August 20, 2006). "The constitutional scheme of federalism". Journal of European Public Policy. Routledge. 12 (3): 419–431. doi:10.1080/13501760500091166.