The Principle of Subsidiarity as Principle of Economic Efficiency




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Columbia University Press



Peer reviewed


The principle of subsidiarity—whereby a power shared between the European Union and its Member States is exercised at the lowest appropriate level of governance—is a general principle of European Union law the justiciability of which has been widely discussed. The justiciability of the subsidiarity principle has been criticized for underlining its political relevance. However, this critique lacks the power to explain both the weight of the principle of subsidiarity in the E.U. Treaties and the case law regarding the subsidiarity principle. What is the principle of subsidiarity and what degree of justiciability does it have? This paper argues that the principle of subsidiarity is better understood in its current form when its economic complexion is underlined. More precisely, the principle of subsidiarity contains, at its core, the principle of economic efficiency. The “subsidiarity- as-efficiency” model offers a better understanding of European Union law and reveals that the European case law on subsidiarity tends to promote economic efficiency. The article shall introduce the basic notions of the E.U. principle of subsidiarity before (I) delving into the efficiency rationale of the subsidiarity principle. ext, (II) the article shall study the European case law and show that the principle of economic efficiency is clearly encapsulated in this jurisprudence, which renders the European case law on the principle of subsidiarity economically sound with respect to promotion of efficiency through subsidiarity. The article will be concluded in Part III.



Subsidiarity, EU principles of law, law and economics, economic efficiency


Portuese, A. (2011) Principle of Subsidiarity as Principle of Economic Efficiency. Columbia Journal of European Law. 17, p. 231


Research Institute