What is meant by subsidiarity in the EU-context?
This is a rule in the EU-treaties in which it is agreed that it remains with the member states to do themselves what they can do best themselves. However, this principle has never worked properly in the EU-intergovernmental governing system because it has never been clear what powers in which policy domains should be left to the member states to decide upon by themselves. The EU-treaties do not include a definition or a criterion regarding this matter. Thus, this principle provokes a permanent debate on the division of powers between the EU and its member states. Moreover, the European Council (the assembly of national government leaders) can decide top-down whatever they deem appropriate for all member states. Subsequently, the member states have to carry out these decisions, EU-wide. However, due to the fact that these decisions are mostly the fruit of wheeling and dealing by national-driven agendas, they may be profitable for one member state and disadvantageous for another. That is why the intergovernmental system, with its non-functioning principle of subsidiarity, meets with growing resistance. See for our criticism of the principle of subsidiarity in the EU-context Papers no. 2, 11, 16, 20, 21, 22.