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Preamble (of Latin praeambulare "Moving Forward," "forward stride"; on the medieval Latin Praeambulum "Introduction") today designated a mostly ceremonial, drawn up in fine language statement at the beginning of a document , particularly a constitution or an international treaty . The German Basic Law , the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation and the Austrian State Treaty contain a preamble. Nowadays it serves the representation of motives, intentions and purposes by their authors and reflects the respective "basis consensus ". In times of work on a European constitution , the mention of a special religious reference or an invocatio dei in the preamble is controversial.


The Decalogue of the Old Testament of the Bible does not begin with the 1st commandment ( “You shall not have any gods next to me” ), but with the words “I am the Lord your God! I have set you free from Egypt ” , and this is how the binding force of the following law is justified in legal theology. This pattern recurs historically over and over again. The Hammurabi Codex (~ 1700 BC) already had a preamble, as did the Lex Salica (approx. 510), the Sachsenspiegel (approx. 1224), the Golden Bull of Charles IV (1356), the Embarrassing Court Regulations of Charles V . (1532), the General Prussian Land Law (1794), finally the Declaration of Independence of the United States and the first constitutions of Virginia ( Virginia Declaration of Rights , 1776), the United States ( Constitution of 1787 and Bill of Rights of 1789), Poland ( Constitution of May 3, 1791 ) and France ( Constitution of September 3, 1791 ).

The early international treaties an initiated Vorsprüche: the Rütlischwur Swiss strains (1291), the eternal peace (1495), the Peace of Augsburg (1555), the Peace of Westphalia (1648). There is also an advance culture in the private sector: the medieval document initially consisted of a standardized arenga , the design of which guaranteed the originality of the designated exhibitor. Especially at the time of the Roman soldier emperors around 235–305, literary prophecy flourished as a rhetorical art form; the literary form of the prologue (u) s, especially in ancient drama, is well known, and so the preamble belongs to the standard repertoire of late and post-modern constitution .

In terms of content, the preambles of the law served the feudal rulers' propagandistic purposes: in the papal decretals, the claim to office associated with the chair of Peter was in the foreground, secular-absolutist rulers combined themselves with spiritual power in the preambles and also brought them into the restorative constitutions of the 19th century Divine grace expresses dei gratia . In Germany , the National Socialist regime undertook to enforce the ideologically fermented preambles of its laws beyond the actual wording of the law, but without any appreciation in jurisprudence or teaching.

The Austrian President Thomas Klestil refused at the intergovernmental negotiations in 2000 for the time being to praise the proposed Cabinet (especially some FPÖ ministers). As a compromise, the participants agreed for the first time in the Second Austrian Republic a preamble, which the practically " designated " participants had to sign. In it, the Federal Government committed itself to "the principles of pluralistic democracy and the rule of law , as they are also anchored in the Austrian constitution ..." Finally, the Schüssel I cabinet began its work on February 4, 2000. In this case, the preamble had the dubious function of reaffirming the constitutional text and of reassuring the people , the media and ultimately the world. Accordingly, the 'preamble' entered the memory of the colloquial language .

Preambles at the level of European law

European law consists of the treaties of the European Communities / European Union , the secondary sources based on them and the treaties of the Council of Europe . At least among the primary sources, no text is known that does not contain a preamble, namely the Statute of the Council of Europe 1949 (EuRat), the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 ( ECHR ), the Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community 1952 ( ECSC ), the The Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community 1957 ( EAG ), the Treaty establishing the European Community 1957 ( EGV ) and the Treaty on European Union 1992 ( TEU ) contain extensive preliminary claims.

In terms of content, the treaties emphasize the will of states and peoples to live together peacefully on the basis of common values ​​and interests, in the first treaties even more idealistic and euphoric - EuRat: “spiritual and moral values ​​that are the common heritage of the peoples”, ECHR: “deeper Belief in these fundamental freedoms ", ECSC: world peace - as the EAEC then does, whose preamble is very much geared towards the subject of nuclear energy, and finally the EGV, which in its objective, with a thoroughly visionary perspective -" the foundations for one forever [to] create closer union of the European peoples ”- very much focused on the economic aspects on which it is based.

In contrast, the TEU , which has a much more general political content and was shaped by the recent fall of the Iron Curtain , ties in with the style of the founding years , adding to its "commitment to the principles of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law" on fundamental social rights , environmental protection and sustainability , advocates Union citizenship , monetary union and a common foreign, security and defense policy ( CFSP ). The concept of a European identity is used.

The draft of the Constitutional Treaty of Europe has a special feature, which now has two preambles thanks to the complete inclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regularly uses the content-related statements of the preambles of the European treaties as an aid to the interpretation of article law.

See also

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Wiktionary: Preamble  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations