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The Elgar Companion to Law and Economics, Second Edition

Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus

This thoroughly updated and revised edition of a popular and authoritative reference work introduces the reader to the major concepts and leading contributors in the field of law and economics. The Companion features accessible, informative and provocative entries on all the significant issues, and breaks new ground by bringing together widely dispersed yet theoretically congruent ideas.
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Chapter 17: Subsidiarity

Jürgen G. Backhaus


Jürgen G. Backhaus Introduction The principle of subsidiarity, since it became part of the Maastricht Treaty and thereby of European constitutional law, has received a lot of attention. Its relationship to ecological issues, however, has rarely been explored. Subsidiarity is a perfectly generalizable principle of organization. It can apply to all areas of policy: financial, agricultural, technological, education, defence, economic development and, of course, environmental policy. The principle of subsidiarity is an organizing principle. Taken as such, it is silent about the specific purpose, direction or content of a particular policy. Whatever may be the purpose of the policy, the principle of subsidiarity requires that it be carried out within the smallest viable context in which the objective can successfully be attained. When a task is too complicated for a small unit such as an office or a firm to carry out successfully, that unit has to be augmented to the point where the task can be performed effectively. Likewise, if an organization is too large to handle particular problems successfully, as its procedures may be too cumbersome, as it lacks sufficient detailed information or experiences repeated recurrence of problems it has tried to settle, a different organizational form must be found, preferably an existing one, which is closer to the problem at hand and able to carry out the policy in question. It goes without saying that along with the shift in responsibility will go the access to resources with which to carry out the...

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