Annex B: Example of an EU proposal breaching subsidiarity
In 2012, the European Parliament and Council issued a Draft Regulation on Establishing a Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived. This aimed to establish an EU-level fund to support member states in the provision of food banks and goods for the homeless. The proposal thereby related to cohesion, a shared competence between the EU and member states - meaning that the subsidiarity test was applied. The European Commission argued that action to combat poverty at the EU level was necessary, given the level of poverty and social exclusion across the Union. It recognised that the EU economic and fiscal crisis had exacerbated levels of poverty across Member States, and saw the fund as a way of 'demonstrating the direct solidarity of the Union with poor people'. It argued that the principle of subsidiarity was respected, as the EU would leave it up to Member States to decide how the funds were administered.
However, the UK Parliament argued that it was not necessary to address the issue of poverty at an EU level. Given the different challenges and financial constraints across Member States, it was far more appropriate to take action at a national level. Further, it was unacceptable to bind all Member States into contributing to this fund, when national support in most instances was adequate. The UK Parliament also dismissed the Commission's argument that the fund would show solidarity with the most deprived people across Europe, stating: 'the fact that the Commission is anxious to be seen to act (to mitigate its contribution to the economic and financial crisis) does not mean that EU action is necessary or justified'.
Both the House of Commons and the Lords wrote a reasoned opinion to the European Commission and Council (as they were proposing the action), setting out why they thought that the proposal did not accord with the principle of subsidiarity. They were supported by the Riksdag of the Kingdom of Sweden and by the German Bundestag. However, as less than a third of EU national parliaments took issue with the proposals, the Council and Commission were not forced to review them.