Table of Contents

The Elgar Companion to Law and Economics

The Elgar Companion to Law and Economics

Elgar original reference

Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus

This authoritative and comprehensive reference work introduces the reader to the major concepts and leading contributors in the field of law and economics. The Companion features accessible, informative and provocative entries on all the significant areas and breaks new ground by bringing together widely dispersed but theoretically congruent ideas for the first time.

Chapter 10: Subsidiarity

Jürgen G. Backhaus

Subjects: economics and finance, law and economics, public choice theory, law - academic, law and economics, politics and public policy, public choice


Jiirgen G. Backhaus Introduction The principle of subsidiarity, since it became part of the Treaty of Maastricht and thereby of European constitutional law, has received a lot of attention. Its relationship to ecological issues, however, has rarely been explored. Subsidiarity is a perfectly generalizable principle of organization. It can apply to all areas of policy: financial, agricultural, technological, education, defence, economic development and, of course, environmental policy. The principle of subsidiarity is an organizing principle. Taken as such, it is silent about the specific purpose, direction or content of a particular policy. Whatever may be the purpose of the policy, the principle of subsidiarity requires that it be carried out within that context which is the smallest viable one in which the objective can successfully be attained. When a task is too complicated for a small unit such as an office or a firm to carry out successfully, that unit has to be augmented to the point where the task can be performed effectively. Likewise, if an organization is too large to handle successfully particular problems, as its procedures may be too cumbersome, as it lacks sufficient detailed information or experiences repeated recurrence of problems it has tried to settle, a different organizational form must be found, preferably an existing one, which is closer to the problem at hand and'able to carry out the policy in question. It goes without saying that along with the shift in responsibility will go the access to resources with which to carry out the...

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