1208 - The principle of subsidiarity of the European Constitution

N. Lygeros
Translation from French: Ph. Alsina

Some nationalist and even ultra-nationalist criticisms are based on the false idea that the European Union via its constitution could jeopardize national constitutions. But the European constitution does not replace national constitutions in any case. It will not only preserve all its force, but will be reinforced by the treaty. Moreover, the principle of subsidiarity, such as it is stated in the I-11 article, clarifies any possible misunderstanding.

« Under the principle of subsidiarity, in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Union shall act only if and insofar as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level. »

And the following paragraph specifies the framework of the application.

« The institutions of the Union shall apply the principle of subsidiarity as laid down in the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. National Parliaments shall ensure compliance with that principle in accordance with the procedure set out in that Protocol. »

Moreover, in the 9 articles of the protocol on the application of the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality, and in particular in article 6, it is precisely mentioned how any national parliament can intervene within six week if it estimates that a proposed project would not be in conformity with the subsidiarity principle. It is thus clear that extremist criticism is quite simply fallacious and exploits the fact that all the population did not read the treaty of the European constitution. Because the text actually clarifies with precision the dispatching of competences between the Union and the Member States, since it defines three categories of competences, namely the exclusiveness, which corresponds to a global vision like the euro or the customs union, the sharing of competences with the states as with the environment, and the support of the states as with education. Those dispositions allow interaction that are more differentiated and not treated on a hierarchical basis, particularly in sensitive domains. It does not mean however that it is going to interfere with the interior affairs of the Member States. That, it will not do in any case. Moreover, as the article I-12 paragraph 2 indicates:

« The Member States shall exercise their competence to the extent that the Union has not exercised, or has decided to cease exercising, its competence. »

With this whole set of measures, it is obvious that national constitutions are immersed in the European constitution in the mathematical sense of the term.