In this post we continue our discussion of the EU’s Task Force report on Active Subsidiarity.  The authors are not in any doubt about what ‘subsidiarity’ means in the EU’s treaties:
“The Member States have expressly limited the areas in which the Union can act by conferring specific competences on the Union in the Treaties. Competences not conferred on the Union remain with the Member States. This represents a clear demarcation of the responsibilities of the Union and the Member States.”
“Action by the Union is governed by the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and the institutions have a specific obligation to ensure respect for the two principles.”
The principle of subsidiarity is explicit: only that which needs to be coordinated at a higher level should be passed up; if that isn’t necessary for successful implementation it should be carried out close to the people affected. It is clear from reading the report that its authors are legislators or civil ‘servants’ operating at a very high legislative level who have heard some criticism of the EU’s heavy-handedness but have failed to understand the criticism. In their minds – and experience – government is supposed to be imposed from the top, where the vision and motivation exists, because at ground level representatives are too busy running around trying to satisfy the immediate concerns of people who might otherwise kick them out. That’s no way to complete a grand mission.
The Report makes nine recommendations. We quote selectively from these.
from Recommendation 1
“During the legislative process, the European Parliament and the Council should systematically review the subsidiarity and proportionality of draft legislation…”
So they don’t do this now? (No, they don’t)
from Recommendation 2
“The Commission should apply flexibly the Treaty-based 8 weeks deadline for national Parliaments to submit their reasoned opinions.”
Are they serious, or is this just a space-filler? Eight weeks sounds like an emergency motion for the UK parliament, and probably most others; no wonder if they don’t get reasoned responses.
from Recommendation 3
“Protocol No. 2 TEU/TFEU should be revised when the opportunity arises to allow national Parliaments 12 weeks to prepare and submit their reasoned opinions and to express fully their views about subsidiarity, proportionality and the legal basis (conferral) of the proposed legislation.”
This gets to the core of the EU view of subsidiarity; member states are allowed to express their views, provided their opinions are reasoned.
from Recommendation 4
“The Commission should involve local and regional authorities fully in its consultation processes taking into account their specific role in implementing Union legislation.”
That’s it – their role is to implement Union legislation.
from Recommendation 5
“The Commission should ensure that its impact assessments and evaluations systematically consider territorial impacts and assess them where they are significant for local and regional authorities.
Again, are they saying that this isn’t done now? Note: where “impact assessments” are “significant”; guess who decides on the significance?
from Recommendation 6
“Member States’ governments and national Parliaments should call on the views and expertise of local and regional authorities at the start of the legislative procedure. The Task Force invites the EU’s co-legislators to consider inviting representatives of local and regional authorities to their meetings or hosting hearings and events where this is appropriate.”
“Invites…to consider inviting…to their meetings…where… appropriate.” Q: When might it be inappropriate to invite such representation? A: When the Commission wishes to keep the discussion secret. Does anyone still believe that this is not a government speaking?
from Recommendation 7
“Regional and national Parliaments should explore how to link more effectively their respective platforms for sharing information… to ensure that the legislative procedure and the subsidiarity control mechanism reflect better their concerns.”
So it’s up to the member nations and their regions to share information and to ensure that subsidiarity works better. More waffle.
from Recommendation 8
“In general, the experiences of local and regional authorities and their networks should be fully taken into account when EU legislation is monitored and evaluated.”
In general but not always, of course. And “taken into account” doesn’t mean acted on, as we know from experience. And again, what does “fully” add? If that were left out would we think that they mean to take the “experiences” only partly into account? This is a comfort word, added only to deceive.
from Recommendation 9
“The next Commission, with the European Parliament and the Council, should reflect on re- balancing its work in some policy areas towards delivering more effective implementation…”
They should “reflect” but probably are not expected to do anything. It’s hard to take all this seriously, except for the cost of it all to tax payers.
From these extracts it’s hard to miss the dominant flavour: condescension. In every recommendation the onus is on the junior levels (i.e. the Member States) to shout louder if they have anything to say about how they are to be governed. ‘They’ (both the EU and its Task Force) have it backwards: ytiraidisbus or ‘a tirade is bust’.