"Solange I" is the common name for the German Federal Constitutional Court
's decision in Internationale Handelsgesellschaft v. Einfuhr und Vorratsstelle für Getreide und Futtermittel (BVerfGE 37, 271; 1974 2 CMLR 540)
, decided on May 29, 1974
The question was a very important one for the West German government: did the "Community law" of the EC supersede the fundamental rights established in Germany's basic law? While the German constitution permitted the state to transfer sovereign powers to IGO's (article 24), the fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution were argued to be non-transferable
Solange means "as long as." The Court's decision stated that as long as the EC did not have codified fundamental rights, the German courts would continue to recognize the fundamental rights of Germany as supreme. They also maintained that German courts had the right to review all incoming legislation from the EC to ensure that it did not conflict with the same fundamental rights of German law.
The court's concern, that the EC would stifle democracy, was backed up by the fact that, back then, the EC did not have popularly elected legislators either. However, its importance cannot be underestimated: it amounted to the German government denying the absolute supremacy of Community law within the Community, and the situation was not adequately resolved for many years.
In the Solange II decision of 1986, the court partially reversed its stance, again using the "as long as" caveat to keep its powers intact. The Bananas decision of 2000 made even greater concessions to the Community.