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Subsidiarity and proportionality: the role of parliaments

 

ParlamentPARLAMENT2PARLAMENT

 

The principle of subsidiarity has been an integral part of EU primary law since the Maastricht Treaty (1992). It was designed - as a counterbalance to the ambitious internal market programme - to prevent Community law from encroaching upon national responsibilities more than is necessary. The case law of the European Court of Justice has been very reticent on the subject of the principle of subsidiarity. Not least for this reason, there have been persistent doubts about the effective application and control of the principle of subsidiarity.

Against this background, the view has prevailed that additional procedural guarantees are required. In particular, a more prominent role for national parliaments in subsidiarity control was envisaged. These ideas were reflected in the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), through which the protocols on the role of national parliaments in the European Union and on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality were incorporated into EU primary law.

Finally, the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe explicitly mentions the regional and local levels in the Member States for the purposes of subsidiarity control. Moreover, the role of the national parliaments in subsidiarity control was further strengthened in two protocols. In particular, explicit provision was made for review by the courts of compliance with the principle of subsidiarity.

 

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Date: 28.02.2006