The principle of subsidiarity and the social policy of the European Community.
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SPICKER, P., 1991. The principle of subsidiarity and the social policy of the European Community. Journal of European Social Policy, 1 (1), pp. 3 – 14.
The idea of 'subsidiarity' has been gaining influence within the European Community. 'Subsidiarity' is based on a view of society in which responsibilities are conditioned by the closeness of people's relationships. Intervention at higher levels of society has to be seen as subsidiary to the obligations of smaller social units. Applied more narrowly in the context of the Community, subsidiarity has been taken to refer to a functional division of administrative responsibilities, although at times the principle is referred back to its wider usage; it implies an emphasis on decentralisation and diversity. The gradual expansion of European interventions in national social policies has depended on a strategy of developing precedents and competence. The idea of subsidiarity, used virtually as a synonym for national sovereignty, has been enlisted to oppose this trend. Although the principle does limit the scope of a supra-national organisation, there is still scope for a European social policy which establishes principles and develops other kinds of solidarity. If, moreover, the issue is genuinely one of subsidiarity, it implies not only that the European Commission must limit and devolve its powers, but that wherever possible national governments should do the same.