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Subsidiarity - European Scrutiny

31 January 2011

What is subsidiarity?

Subsidiarity is the principle that action at EU level should "add value" and be undertaken only where the objectives cannot be delivered by action at local, national or regional level. Each draft legislative act must contain a statement attesting to its compliance with the principle of subsidiarity.

Under Protocol 2, Article 6 of the Lisbon Treaty, national parliaments may raise an objection, referred to as a "reasoned opinion" if they do not believe the draft proposal is compliant with the principle of subsidiarity.

Reasoned Opinions

The House of Commons has issued reasoned opinion on the following proposals during the 2010 Parliament:

  1. Investor-Compensation Schemes, 25 October 2010
  2. Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), 11 May 2011
  3. Prudential Requirements for Credit Institutions, 9 November 2011 
  4. Common European Sales Law, 23 November 2011
  5. Public Procurement and Procurement by Public Entities, 6 March 2012
  6. The posting of workers and the right to take collective action, 22 May 2012 
  7. Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, 18 December 2012
  8. Gender balance on corporate boards, 7 January 2013
  9. Reducing the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks, 21 May 2013
  10. Establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, 22 October 2013
  11. Regulation of new psychoactive substances, 11 November 2013
  12. Financial Services: Benchmarks, 2 December 2013
  13. The presumption of innocence, 10 February 2014
  14. Animal cloning, 12 February 2014
  15. Undeclared work, 9 June 2014
  16. Reform of the electoral law of the EU 3 February 2016
  17. Aviation security screening equipment 26 October 2016

Commission Responses

  1. Investor-Compensation Schemes
  2. Commission response on CCCTB
  3. Prudential requirements for credit institutions
  4. Common European Sales Law
  5. Public Procurement and Procurement by Public Entities
  6. The posting of workers and the right to take collective action
  7. Fund for European aid to the most deprived
  8. Gender balance on corporate boards
  9. Establishing a European Public Prosecutor's Office - general response
  10. Establishing a European Public Prosecutor's Office - response to the UK House of Commons specifically
  11. Financial services benchmarks
  12. Presumption of Innocence, 14 May 2014 (PDF 46 KB)
  13. Psychoactive substances, 13 March 2014
  14. Animal Cloning 8 May 2014
  15. Reducing the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks
  16. Undeclared work, 11 August 2014 (PDF 178 KB)
  17. Presumption of Innocence, 23 March 2015 (PDF 45KB)
  18. Animal Cloning, 3 June 2015 (PDF 68KB)
  19. Occupational Pension Funds, 8 June 2015 (PDF 84KB)
  20. Financial Benchmarks, 15 June 2015 (PDF 48KB)
  21. Legal Framework for Schengen evaluations 24 June 2015 (PDF 52KB)
  22. Advanced genetic techniques, 9 July 2015
  23. Commission's 2014 annual reports on subsidiarity and proportionality, 10 December 2015 (PDF 104KB)
  24. Reform of the Electoral Law of the EU 8 April 2016 (PDF 92KB)
  25. Aviation security screening equipment 3 February 2017

Committee's review of the Commission's replies to Commons Reasoned Opinions

The Chair wrote, on behalf of the Committee, to Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission on 26 June 2013 about the responses the Committee had received to date to the Reasoned Opinions submitted on behalf of the House of Commons. 

Political Dialogue with the European Institutions

Where the reasoned opinion deadline has passed but the House has concerns about issues of subsidiarity, it may choose to write to the heads of the European Institutions. The Committee has written to the Institutions with concerns on the following proposals.

Session 2016–17

Session 2014–15

Session 2010–12

Memorandum of Understanding

The Memorandum of Understanding on implementing Article 8 of the Protocol on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality was signed on 7 January 2014 by the Chairs of the European Scrutiny Committee and the House of Lords  European Union Committee and the Minister for Europe, as was the supplementary Memorandum of Understanding, signed by the Clerk of the House, the Clerk of the Parliments and the Minister for Europe.

On 16 September 2013, the European Scrutiny Committee published a Report on the background to the Memorandum of Understanding.

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