Kohl, Jurgen and Vahlpahl, Tobias. (2005) The 'Open Method of Coordination' as an Instrument for Implementing the Principle of Subsidiarity? WP C.S.D.L.E. "Massimo D'Antona" N. 33/2005. [Working Paper]
[From the Introduction]. Since the Treaty of Maastricht (1992), later incorporated in the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997), the concept of ‘subsidiarity’ has become a prominent part of the constitutional order of the European Union. Since 1992, the Commission publishes a report each year on the application of the principle of subsidiarity. Also, in the recent debates about the Constitutional Treaty, reference has often been made to this principle for or against certain proposals how the relations between the Union and the Member States should be regulated. Indeed, in a multi-level political system like the European Union, it is an issue of crucial importance how competences are divided and shared between the different levels of government (European, national, regional, communal). At least for someone who comes from a federal state like the Federal Republic of Germany, it is somewhat surprising that the notion of ‘federalism’ is not mentioned in this context, and is almost banned from the official vocabulary of the EU. For the very same problems of an adequate division of responsibilities and powers between the different levels of government pose themselves in every federal political system (Scharpf 1985). It is also somewhat surprising that the notion of ‘subsidiarity’ has been adopted instead, because this concept – as it was first used in the Papal Encyclical “Quadragesimo anno” of Pope Pius XI (1931) – originally referred to the relationship between the individual and the various social communities to which individuals belong (family, church, other associations). So it can be said to refer primarily to the relationships between state and non-state actors, rather than to the relationships between different territorial levels of government.
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