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Subsidiarity: The Two- Edged Sword

Permarker, Maria (2004)
Department of Law
Abstract
The society of today is undergoing two different trends in government and governance. The first reflects the internationalization and globalization towards a multicultural society where an increasing numbers of measures are being assigned to international and supranational levels. The second tendency is decentralization and an emergence of strong local and regional politics. This is although not something new. Throughout history the social order has developed by the influence of those two streams of thoughts. The performance and the legitimacy of a government are highly dependent on the allocation of competences between the centralized and decentralized institutions. The European Union has continuously developed in an integrated and... (More)
The society of today is undergoing two different trends in government and governance. The first reflects the internationalization and globalization towards a multicultural society where an increasing numbers of measures are being assigned to international and supranational levels. The second tendency is decentralization and an emergence of strong local and regional politics. This is although not something new. Throughout history the social order has developed by the influence of those two streams of thoughts. The performance and the legitimacy of a government are highly dependent on the allocation of competences between the centralized and decentralized institutions. The European Union has continuously developed in an integrated and centralized direction. From a loosely formed international organization held together by a free trade agreement to a deeper and wider coalition on its way towards something more, though still unknown. The struggle for balance of power needs a clear system of division of competences. However, the society of today has often a very complicated structure. The European Union has endowed the complex institutional structure, with systems of co- operation and division of power similar to those of modern federal systems. In general the European Union has thus many parallels with the federal system of the U.S. system. The conflict of division of power is especially sensitive concerning areas of shared competences. The principle of subsidiarity has been a means to resolve who is going to have the authority to act within those shared fields. Subsidiarity is said to have many faces. Yet, there are mainly two different views concerning the concept subsidiarity. The negative approach prefers the autonomy of smaller parts, whereas the positive approach favors the larger common framework. In general subsidiarity is related to the negative approach as a tool against a too expanding centralization of powers. Whilst the negative concept of subsidiarity is inherent in the U.S. system, it was an innovation by the Member States of the European Union against the creeping competences issue of the EU. At the same time the positive approach has worked silently in the shadows. However, from the case law of the European Court of Justice and the U.S. Supreme Court and the general trend in both unions, the positive approach has in fact been the prevailing one. The Community institutions and the apparatus of the EU have widened its powers when so necessary without any closer scrutiny. Similarly the federal government of the U.S. has become a very powerful central government through the years. But now it seems as this era of ever expanding centralization is coming to its end. Since a decade ago EU has focused more attention to the principle of subsidiarity and Member State sovereignty. Especially in the debate of the future Europe, with the newly celebrated enlargement and the postponed European Constitution, the function to allocate competences becomes apparent. United States has been concerned of the proper allocation of governmental authority a long way back in history. Even though the U.S. system is a federal system, the central government has as time has passed gotten very broad competences to act. Recent trends in the political climate and U.S. Supreme Court decisions have renewed the interest around the division of power between the federal government and the states. The ''New Federalism'' has emerged. Thus the pendulum of subsidiarity seems to go back to the original negative notion. It follows, that subsidiarity can be an extremely useful tool to establish a unified approach to further evolution. The development of a centralizing or decentralizing nature depends on the policy at the moment. (Less)
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author
Permarker, Maria
supervisor
organization
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
European Affairs
language
English
id
1554787
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:22:37
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:22:37
@misc{1554787,
  abstract     = {The society of today is undergoing two different trends in government and governance. The first reflects the internationalization and globalization towards a multicultural society where an increasing numbers of measures are being assigned to international and supranational levels. The second tendency is decentralization and an emergence of strong local and regional politics. This is although not something new. Throughout history the social order has developed by the influence of those two streams of thoughts. The performance and the legitimacy of a government are highly dependent on the allocation of competences between the centralized and decentralized institutions. The European Union has continuously developed in an integrated and centralized direction. From a loosely formed international organization held together by a free trade agreement to a deeper and wider coalition on its way towards something more, though still unknown. The struggle for balance of power needs a clear system of division of competences. However, the society of today has often a very complicated structure. The European Union has endowed the complex institutional structure, with systems of co- operation and division of power similar to those of modern federal systems. In general the European Union has thus many parallels with the federal system of the U.S. system. The conflict of division of power is especially sensitive concerning areas of shared competences. The principle of subsidiarity has been a means to resolve who is going to have the authority to act within those shared fields. Subsidiarity is said to have many faces. Yet, there are mainly two different views concerning the concept subsidiarity. The negative approach prefers the autonomy of smaller parts, whereas the positive approach favors the larger common framework. In general subsidiarity is related to the negative approach as a tool against a too expanding centralization of powers. Whilst the negative concept of subsidiarity is inherent in the U.S. system, it was an innovation by the Member States of the European Union against the creeping competences issue of the EU. At the same time the positive approach has worked silently in the shadows. However, from the case law of the European Court of Justice and the U.S. Supreme Court and the general trend in both unions, the positive approach has in fact been the prevailing one. The Community institutions and the apparatus of the EU have widened its powers when so necessary without any closer scrutiny. Similarly the federal government of the U.S. has become a very powerful central government through the years. But now it seems as this era of ever expanding centralization is coming to its end. Since a decade ago EU has focused more attention to the principle of subsidiarity and Member State sovereignty. Especially in the debate of the future Europe, with the newly celebrated enlargement and the postponed European Constitution, the function to allocate competences becomes apparent. United States has been concerned of the proper allocation of governmental authority a long way back in history. Even though the U.S. system is a federal system, the central government has as time has passed gotten very broad competences to act. Recent trends in the political climate and U.S. Supreme Court decisions have renewed the interest around the division of power between the federal government and the states. The ''New Federalism'' has emerged. Thus the pendulum of subsidiarity seems to go back to the original negative notion. It follows, that subsidiarity can be an extremely useful tool to establish a unified approach to further evolution. The development of a centralizing or decentralizing nature depends on the policy at the moment.},
  author       = {Permarker, Maria},
  keyword      = {European Affairs},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Subsidiarity: The Two- Edged Sword},
  year         = {2004},
}