Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law


Dividing Souvereignty Between the Members and the Federation

The principle of subsidiarity surely provides the right model for allotting authorities among the member states and the federation. The federation should only be responsible for tasks that really demand solutions at that level of authority. Authorities should primarily be assigned to the European level if the problems to be solved have a global, European-wide, or cross-border character, as is often the case in trade or environmental policy, or if a common policy has considerable political advantages, both domestically and in foreign affairs, such as in the common foreign affairs and security policies. In such a heterogeneous structure, however, the desire to develop uniform living conditions should not serve as a basis for EU policies. In emphasising the principle of subsidiarity, however, it is important to avoid illusions: In an age of global markets, global transport and communication systems, global environmental problems, and new political bloc building, it can be expected that the conditions named are sufficient enough that the majority of the political and legal measures needed will thus have to be relocated to the European level. Given this knowledge, it is necessary to create functional, fully democratically legitimized institutions at the level of the federation. However, it would be advantageous if authorities were alloted more systematically than in the past. To do this, it will be necessary to see whether any of the authorities that have been moved to the EU level in ad-hoc processes could once again be moved back to the national level, for instance, in structural funds or regional policy.



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