Proportionality needed in the subsidiarity debate in the EU – Appraisal of the British and Dutch initiatives

Tuesday, 8 April 2014
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In a new CEPS Essay, Michael Emerson assesses the initiatives taken by the UK and Dutch governments to cut out excessive EU regulatory intrusion, namely in the form of the ongoing British Balance of Competences Review and the Dutch list of 54 items of EU regulation that they would like to see repealed or reformed. He concludes that while one can approve of a campaign for better EU regulation and for cutting out unnecessary micro-regulation, it would require impressive commitment by all member states and the EU institutions to follow the best features of the British and Dutch leads for this to have a real effect in the fight against populist euroscepticism. In his view, that battle will have to be won primarily with bigger weapons – some combination of better macroeconomic results, bigger foreign policy achievements and the emergence of a European-level political leadership to which the people can relate. In short, there has to be due proportionality in the diagnosis of the responsibility of inadequate subsidiarity for the EU’s ills.

The paper was originally presented at the CEPS-Clingendael Conference “Is subsidiarity relevant for better EU governance?”, The Hague, 23 January 2014.

Michael Emerson is Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).