Subsidiarity and the European Union
NBER Working Paper No. 6556
The European Union is at a crossroads. At issue will be each of the three decisions which define a federal constitution: the number of participating governments, the assignment of policy responsibilities to the new EMU, and the representation of local interests in, and the decision-making rules for, the Union. Subsidiarity is to be the guiding principle. This essay reviews three alternative models of subsidiarity -- decentralized federalism, centralized federalism, and democratic federalism -- and argues the current European Economic Community has evolved from decentralized to centralized to a fully democratic federalist state. The structure of EMU governance is in place and it closely resembles that of the United States: an institutionally weak executive, a country-specific Council of Ministers and a locally representative Parliament. The remaining issues to be decided are the number of participating members and the assignment of policy responsibilities to levels of government. A large Union with significant fiscal policy responsibilities is likely to replicate U.S. economic policy performance.