Subsidiarity - European Scrutiny

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 (PDF PDF 82 KB) 
  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 (PDF PDF 89 KB), 21 May 2013
  10. Establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, 22 October 2013 (PDF PDF 584 KB)
  11. Regulation of new psychoactive substances, 11 November 2013 (PDF PDF 63 KB)
  12. Financial Services: Benchmarks, 2 December 2013 (PDF PDF 77 KB)
  13. The presumption of innocence, 10 February 2014 (PDF PDF 61 KB)
  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 (PDF PDF 167 KB)
  2. Commission response on CCCTB (PDF PDF 321 KB)
  3. Prudential requirements for credit institutions (PDF PDF 151 KB)
  4. Common European Sales Law
  5. Public Procurement and Procurement by Public Entities (PDF PDF 166 KB)
  6. The posting of workers and the right to take collective action (PDF PDF 152 KB)
  7. Fund for European aid to the most deprived (PDF PDF 113 KB)
  8. Gender balance on corporate boards (PDF PDF 167 KB)
  9. Establishing a European Public Prosecutor's Office (PDF PDF 56 KB) - general response
  10. Establishing a European Public Prosecutor's Office (PDF PDF 52 KB) - response to the UK House of Commons specifically
  11. Financial services benchmarks (PDF PDF 39 KB)
  12. Presumption of Innocence, 14 May 2014 (PDF 46 KB) (PDF PDF 47 KB)
  13. Psychoactive substances, 13 March 2014 (PDF PDF 115 KB)
  14. Animal Cloning 8 May 2014 (PDF PDF 118 KB)
  15. Reducing the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks (PDF PDF 451 KB)
  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) (PDF PDF 63 KB)
  19. Occupational Pension Funds, 8 June 2015 (PDF 84KB) (PDF PDF 76 KB)
  20. Financial Benchmarks, 15 June 2015 (PDF 48KB) (PDF PDF 45 KB)
  21. Legal Framework for Schengen evaluations 24 June 2015 (PDF 52KB)
  22. Advanced genetic techniques, 9 July 2015 (PDF PDF 1.37 MB)
  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) (PDF PDF 615 KB)
  25. Aviation security screening equipment 3 February 2017 (PDF PDF 207 KB)

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.

Image: iStockphoto