Monday, December 19, 2005

What is 'subsidiarity"? Tony Judt explains it for you

My enthusiasm for Tony Judt's Postwar knows no bounds. I think it is my personal book of the year, in any category. It is an eloquent, superb combination of scholarly history combined with the sureness of the personal judgment of someone who was around for much of it. It is not at all a personal memoir - it is history on the grand scale - but history in the old fashioned sense of someone who has the grasp and experience to make astute judgments about it.

On "subsidiarity" (at 715-716):

"To be sure, the Maastricht Treaty made much play with 'subsidiarity' - a sort of Occam's Razor for eurocrats, stating 'the Union does not take action (except in the areas which fall within its exclusive competence) unless it is more effective than action taken at national, regional or local level'. But even this had different meanings for different ears: in France it meant limiting the power of supernational bodies beyond Paris' control; for the Germans, it implied special privileges and powers for regional government; for the British it represented a device for blocking institutional integration."

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