Thought for the Day: Scruton on European “Subsidiarity”

The European Union supposedly respects “subsidiarity” (the European version of federalism), in which law and policy decisions are supposedly made at the lowest feasible level. Roger Scruton writes about the fiction of EU subsidiarity in practice:

When embedded in “Eurospeak,” “subsidiarity” loses its referential character, in just the way that “capitalism” loses its referential character in Newspeak. Encountering the term “subsidiarity” in the documents of the EU you enter the vicinity of a mystery, from which you are expected to learn only one thing, which is that enquiry is futile. The term invariably occurs in the vicinity of a seriously damaging question, namely: what remains of the democratic forms of government achieved by nation states, when the EU takes charge of their legislation? The answer is that we must apply the “principle of subsidiarity,” according to which decisions are all to be taken at the “lowest level compatible with the project of the Union.” “What is this lowest level?” you may ask, and “Who decides which decisions are to be taken there?” The only possible answer to the second of those questions—namely, “the EU apparatus, including the European Court of Justice”—removes all meaning from the first. To say that the nation states have sovereignty in all matters that they are competent to decide, but that the EU apparatus decides which matters those are, is to say that the nation states have no sovereignty at all, since all their powers are delegated. In other words, “subsidiarity” effectively removes the sovereignty that it purports to grant, and so wraps up the whole idea of sovereignty in an impenetrable cloud of mystery.

The point is: the modern problem of the administrative state is not limited to the United States.

P.S. I could probably fill up this space every day with thoughts from Sir Roger. So this is as good a place as any to remind in meme form one of his greatest hits:

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.