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Encyclopedia > Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity is the principle which states that matters ought to be handled by the smallest (or, the lowest) competent authority. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. The concept is applicable in the fields of government, political science, cybernetics and management. Subsidiarity is, ideally or in principle, one of the features of federalism. The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ... For other uses, see Cybernetics (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Management (disambiguation). ... For theological federalism, see Covenant Theology. ...


The word subsidiarity is derived from the Latin word subsidiarius and has its origins in Catholic social teaching. The concept or principle is found in several constitutions around the world (see for example the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution). For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... Catholic social teaching comprises those aspects of Catholic doctrine which relate to matters dealing with the collective aspect of humanity. ... For Ireland, see Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland. ...


It is presently best known as a fundamental principle of European Union law. According to this principle, the EU may only act (i.e. make laws) where member states agree that action of individual countries is insufficient. The principle was established in the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, and is contained within the proposed new Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe. However, at the local level it was already a key element of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, an instrument of the Council of Europe promulgated in 1985 (see Article 4, Paragraph 3 of the Charter European Union law is the unique legal system which operates alongside the laws of Member States of the European Union (EU). ... Year 1992 (MCMXCII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display full 1992 Gregorian calendar). ... The Maastricht treaty (formally, the Treaty on European Union) was signed on 7 February 1992 in Maastricht between the members of the European Community and entered into force on 1 November 1993. ... Wikisource has original text related to this article: Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe The constitutional treaty as signed in Rome on 29 October 2004 by representatives of the EU member states The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE), commonly referred to as the European Constitution, was an unimplemented... The European Charter of Local Self-Government was adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe (not to be confused with the Council of the European Union) and was opened for signature by the Council of Europes member states on 15 October 1985. ... Anthem Ode to Joy (orchestral)  ten founding members joined subsequently observer at the Parliamentary Assembly observer at the Committee of Ministers  official candidate Seat Strasbourg, France Membership 47 European states 5 observers (Council) 3 observers (Assembly) Leaders  -  Secretary General Terry Davis  -  President of the Parliamentary Assembly Rene van der Linden... This article is about the year. ... The European Charter of Local Self-Government was adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe (not to be confused with the Council of the European Union) and was opened for signature by the Council of Europes member states on 15 October 1985. ...

Contents

Catholic social teaching

The principle of subsidiarity holds that government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently. The principle is based upon the autonomy and dignity of the human individual, and holds that all other forms of society, from the family to the state and the international order, should be in the service of the human person. Subsidiarity assumes that these human persons are by their nature social beings, and emphasizes the importance of small and intermediate-sized communities or institutions, like the family, the church, and voluntary associations, as mediating structures which empower individual action and link the individual to society as a whole. "Positive subsidiarity", which is the ethical imperative for communal, institutional or governmental action to create the social conditions necessary to the full development of the individual, such as the right to work, decent housing, health care, etc., is another important aspect of the subsidiarity principle.


The principle of subsidiarity was developed in the encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891 by Pope Leo XIII, as an attempt to articulate a middle course between the excesses of laissez-faire capitalism on the one hand and the various forms of communism, which subordinate the individual to the state, on the other. The principle was further developed in Pope Pius XI's encyclical Quadragesimo Anno of 1931, and Economic Justice for All by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Rerum Novarum (Translation: Of New Things) is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on May 15, 1891. ... Pope Leo XIII (March 2, 1810—July 20, 1903), born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci, was the 256th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, reigning from 1878 to 1903, succeeding Pope Pius IX. Reigning until the age of 93, he was the oldest pope, and had the third longest pontificate... Laissez-faire is short for laissez faire, laissez passer, a French phrase meaning to let things alone, let them pass. First used by the eighteenth century Physiocrats as an injunction against government interference with trade, it is now used as a synonym for strict free market economics. ... For other uses, see Capitalism (disambiguation). ... Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization based on common ownership of the means of production. ... Pope Pius XI (Latin: ; Italian: Pio XI; May 31, 1857 – February 10, 1939), born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, reigned as Pope from February 6, 1922 and as sovereign of Vatican City from 1929 until his death on February 10, 1939. ... Quadragesimo Anno is an encyclical by Pope Pius XI, issued 15 May 1931, 40 years after Rerum Novarum (thus the name, Latin for the fortieth year). Written as a response to the Great Depression, it calls for the establishment of a social order based on the principle of subsidiarity. ... Year 1931 (MCMXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1931 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (also known as the USCCB) is the official governing body of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. ...


European Union law

Subsidiarity was established in EU law by the Treaty of Maastricht, signed on 7 February 1992 and entered into force on 1 November 1993. The present formulation is contained in Article 5 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community (consolidated version following the Treaty of Nice, which entered into force on 1 February 2003): The Maastricht treaty (formally, the Treaty on European Union) was signed on 7 February 1992 in Maastricht between the members of the European Community and entered into force on 1 November 1993. ... Year 1992 (MCMXCII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display full 1992 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1993 Gregorian calendar). ... Treaty of Nice The Treaty of Nice is a treaty adopted in Nice by the European Council to amend the two founding treaties of the European Union: the Treaty on European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, which introduced the Euro and the 3-pillar structure of the EU; the Treaty of... Year 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

The Community shall act within the limits of the powers conferred upon it by this Treaty and of the objectives assigned to it therein.
In areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Community shall take action, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved by the Community.
Any action by the Community shall not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of this Treaty.

A more descriptive analysis of the principle can be found in Protocol 30 to the EC Treaty.


Article 9 of the proposed European constitution states The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, commonly referred to as the European Constitution, is an international treaty intended to create a constitution for the European Union. ...

Under the principle of subsidiarity, in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence the Union shall act only if and insofar as the objectives of the intended action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level.

Formally, the principle of subsidiarity applies to those areas where the Community does not have exclusive competence, the principle delineating those areas where the Community should and should not act. In practice, the concept is frequently used in a more informal manner in discussions as to which competences should be given to the Community, and which retained for the Member States alone.


The concept of subsidiarity therefore has both a legal and a political dimension. Consequently, there are varying views as to its legal and political consequences, and various criteria are put forward explaining the content of the principle. For example:

  • The action must be necessary because actions of individuals or member-state governments alone will not achieve the objectives of the action (the sufficiency criterion)
  • The action must bring added value over and above what could be achieved by individual or member-state government action alone (the benefit criterion).
  • Decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the citizen (the close to the citizen criterion)
  • The action should secure greater freedoms for the individual (the autonomy criterion).

The European Union, however, has as part of its phraseology a call for "an ever-closer union." What restraints upon the progress of centralised decision making would be brought about by strict reference to the principle of subsidiarity have yet to be proven by major constitutional clashes.


See also

Decentralisation (American: decentralization) is any of various means of more widely distributing decision-making to bring it closer to the point of service or action. ... Look up Devolution in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Distributism, also known as distributionism and distributivism, is a third-way economic philosophy formulated by such Roman Catholic thinkers as G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc to apply the principles of social justice articulated by the Roman Catholic Church, especially in Pope Leo XIIIs encyclical Rerum Novarum[1] and... Grassroots democracy is a tendency towards designing political processes where as much decision-making authority as practical is shifted to the organizations lowest geographic level of organization. ... Localism describes a range of political philosophies which prioritise the local. ... Local governments are administrative offices that are smaller than a state or province. ... Public choice theory is a branch of economics that studies the decision-making behavior of voters, politicians and government officials from the perspective of economic theory, namely game theory and decision theory. ... Urban secession is a citys secession from its surrounding region, to form a new political unit (usually a state or district or province of the same country as its surroundings, but not always). ...

External links

  • Protocol 30 to the Treaty establishing the European Community.
  • Protocol to the draft European constitution on the application of the principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality.
  • Catechism section on Subsidiarity.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Subsidiarity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (936 words)
Subsidiarity assumes that these human persons are by their nature social beings, and emphasizes the importance of small and intermediate-sized communities or institutions, like the family, the church, and voluntary associations, as mediating structures which empower individual action and link the individual to society as a whole.
The principle of subsidiarity was developed in the encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891 by Pope Leo XIII, as an attempt to articulate a middle course between the perceived excesses of laissez-faire capitalism on the one hand and the various forms of totalitarianism, which subordinate the individual to the state, on the other.
Subsidiarity was established in EU law by the Treaty of Maastricht, signed on 7 February 1992 and entered into force on 1 November 1993.
Subsidiarity and Democratic Deliberation (11225 words)
This "Amsterdam Subsidiarity" regards Community action as appropriate if "the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by Member States' action in the framework of their national constitutional system and can therefore be better achieved by action on the part of the Community." (art.
However, the principle of subsidiarity may also foster agreement by indicating the issues which must be resolved, including such topics as the aims of the union, the likely strategies and their expected effects.
Considerations of subsidiarity might support local deliberation and action, either to foster the required shared sense of justice (Blichner and Sangolt 1994), or because Amsterdam Subsidiarity requires a comparison of the effects of member states acting on their own, with the effects of common action.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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