Judges at the court in Karlsruhe found that “parliamentary oversight only extends to measures already taken by the government,” saying that there was no constitutional reason why parliament should be given advance notice of military export deals.
But they said that the government would have to answer factual questions about specific sales, even if they had not yet been allowed to go ahead.
Court president Andreas Voßkuhle noted that “the Supreme Court had not been asked to rule on the legality or the volume of weapons exports.”
Green party MPs Hans-Christian Ströbele, Claudia Roth and Katja Keul had brought the case against the government, angered that they were unable to force a response to a 2011 parliamentary question about exports of the latest Leopard 2 tanks to Saudi Arabia.
The court said that “consultation and decision-making in the national security council are at the core of the executive's responsibility,” allowing the government to refuse to provide information as a matter of course.
The national security council, a sub-committee of the full cabinet which is led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is the body which decides on controversial export deals.
Since the Social Democratic Party (SPD) entered a coalition government with Merkel's party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the government has published statistics on weapons exports every six months instead of once a year.
Germany is ranked among the biggest weapons exporters in the world.