Research Handbook on the Economics of European Union Law
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Research Handbook on the Economics of European Union Law

Edited by Thomas Eger and Hans-Bernd Schäfer

The Handbook focuses particularly on how the development of EU law negotiates the tension between market integration, national sovereignty and political democracy. The book begins with chapters examining constitutional issues, while further chapters address the establishment of a single market. The volume also addresses sovereign debt problems by providing a detailed analysis of the architecture of the EU’s monetary institutions, its monetary policy and their implications.
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Chapter 5: Subsidiarity for a Changing Union

Emanuela Carbonara, Barbara Luppi and Francesco Parisi


Emanuela Carbonara, Barbara Luppi and Francesco Parisi 1 THE SUBSIDIARITY PRINCIPLE While the concept of subsidiarity reached political prominence in the twentieth century, it is as “old as European political thought” (Carrozza, 2003, p. 38). According to MillonDelsol (1992), the concept of subsidiarity can be traced back to classical Greece. In Politics, Aristotle conceived of society as an interconnected system of associations, with each association required to perform specific tasks and provide for its own needs.1 In the middle ages, Thomas Aquinas renewed the concept of subsidiarity in Summa Theologica (1274). Aquinas and subsequent authors of the medieval scholasticism school viewed subsidiarity as being built upwards from the person and his autonomy. Subsidiarity was, therefore, the ordinating principle of the relationships between communities in society. Each community (for example, a family) should be allowed to contribute to the public good without interference from other communities or their ruling institutions and, at the same time, receive aid when it needs it. Politicians and political theorists such as Althusius, Montesquieu, Locke, Tocqueville and Abraham Lincoln have used the concept of subsidiarity in their work (Carozza, 2003). In the nineteenth century, political theorists invoked the concept of subsidiarity as a balancing criterion to bridge the opposing aspirations of those who advocated for decentralized markets and those who believed in centralized planning.2 Subsidiarity offered a viable criterion to avoid the totalitarian solutions advocated by those two extreme views of society. The Catholic Church renewed its interest in the idea of subsidiarity and started applying...

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