Subsidiarity is a principle of governance designed to give meaning to the divisions of power and responsibility between the central government and constituent states in a federal system. The principle seeks to allocate responsibilities for policy formation and implementation to the lowest level of government at which the objectives of that policy can be successfully achieved. Today’s proponents of subsidiarity within the European Union trace its intellectual roots to 20th Century Catholic philosophy: Just as it is wrong to take away from individuals what they can accomplish by their own ability and effort and entrust it to a community, so it is an injury and at the same time both a serious evil and a disturbance of right order to assign a larger and higher society what can be performed successfully by smaller and lower communities. . . . (T)he more faithfully this principle of subsidiarity function is followed and a graded hierarchical order exists among the various associations, the greater also will be both social authority and social efficiency, and the happier and more prosperous too will be the condition of commonwealth (Pius XI as quoted in Bermann 1994, fn. 18). payday loans lenders

The task before those writing constitutions of the federal form for the European Union is to give meaning and content to the principle of subsidiarity. To do so requires, first, a clear articulation of the objectives of government, and second, a clear understanding as to how alternative federal constitutional structures might foster those objectives. A principle of subsidiarity then weighs these potentially competing objectives and in the process selects that federal constitution form which best promotes the desired balance.