The Principle of Subsidiarity in European Union Law: Some Comparisons with Catholic Social Teaching

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This paper is the second of two papers which examine the versatility of the principle of subsidiarity. The first paper explored the nature of the principle in Catholic social teaching as a moral and social principle and its potential application in the political sphere. This paper further explores the political application of the principle of subsidiarity through a discussion of its operation in the European Union, where it is embodied in article 5(3) of the Treaty on European Union. This paper discusses subsidiarity’s interpretation by the European Court of Justice as a political value judgement, rather than a legal principle. In its discussion of subsidiarity in the European Union, this paper draws some comparisons with the principle’s enunciation in Catholic social teaching. Together, these papers are intended to highlight the many facets of the principle of subsidiarity in order to promote its continued relevance and to promote further scholarship on subsidiarity.
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