Under the principle of subsidiarity, in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Union shall act only if and in so far 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.
Art. 5 (3) TEU
- In theory, the ECJ is already competent to control the subsidiarity principle. But it doesn’t really fill this role yet.
The Court of Justice of the European Union shall have jurisdiction in actions on grounds of infringement of the principle of subsidiarity by a legislative act, brought in accordance with the rules laid down in Article 230 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union by Member States, or notified by them in accordance with their legal order on behalf of their national Parliament or a chamber thereof.
In its review of the legality of the acts listed in art. 263(1), the Court of Justice of the European Union shall also review their compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, as defined in art. 5(3) TEU and Protocol 2. This review shall include an examination of the evidence relied on by the relevant Union bodies in concluding that the proposal was compliant with the principle of subsidiarity. Where the evidence is insufficient in order to establish that that principle has been complied with, the Court shall annul the act.
Martin Holterman is a UK government economist with a background in both European law and in economics. He previously worked as an academic studying the regulation of the railway sector, having obtained a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Twente (the Netherlands) in 2011. Martin Holterman blogs about European matters at martinned.ideasoneurope.eu and about all other things at martinned.blogspot.com. All views expressed in this article are strictly personal, and do not reflect the views of the UK government, the UK Government Economic Service or any other entity.