08 Apr 2014

From Subsidiarity to Better EU Governance: A Practical Reform Agenda for the EU

Steven Blockmans / Judith Hoevenaars / Adriaan Schout / Jan Marinus Wiersma

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On 23 January 2014, a group of 73 member states’ officials and representatives from the European institutions and academia gathered at Clingendael Park in The Hague for a day-long seminar co-organised by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations and CEPS for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. The seminar’s aim was to discuss whether subsidiarity can offer a way forward that reconciles the need for better EU governance with concerns about legitimacy. This paper is based on subsidiarity literature, on preparatory talks with officials from member states and EU institutions and on the discussions in the seminar in The Hague.

In particular, the paper explores the political and practical relevance of some of the ideas currently being considered to solidify the principle of subsidiarity in day-to-day decision-making. It maps the current political contours of subsidiarity as they appear in speeches and policy papers and presents some of the main ideas in the current debate on deepening subsidiarity.

Steven Blockmans is Senior Research Fellow and Head of Politics and Institutions at CEPS; Judith Hoevenaars is Project Assistant, Research, at the Clingendael Institute; Adriaan Schout is Senior Research Fellow and Coordinator Europe at the Clingendael Institute; and Jan Marinus Wiersma is Senior Visiting Fellow at the Clingendael Institute.