Throughout this essay, the focus
will be the three main principles, which are conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality
and assessing how the principles work together to shape the legislative
competence of the European Union today.


Conferral being one of the
fundamental principles of European Union law, it governs the limits on Union
competences, while the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality govern
the use of those competencies. These specific competencies are stated in
Article 2-6 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union1.

The competencies that are not conferred on the European Union by the treaties,
therefore it remains with the European Union. There are types of competences.

The following are exclusive competences which is when the area in the European
Union itself can legislate and adopt binding acts, another type of competence
is shared competences where the European Union and the European Union countries
are able to legislate and adopt legally binding acts and lastly supporting
competences where the European Union can only intervene to support, coordinate
or complement the action of European Union countries. 


The functions of the principle of
subsidiarity are established in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union2,
and it is to build up a framework for checking the use of those standards. This
Treaty provides a legal foundation for all European Union actions. The European
Union has multi-level control structure this requires skills are distributed
between the different levels. In some occasions the European Union has
exclusive competence in the act, however, in others, it shares competence with
the Member States. In the instances when the European Union shares competence
with the Member States, the principle of subsidiarity indicates which is used
to establish whether legislative action should be taken at the European Union
or domestic level. The aims of the principles of subsidiarity are the assurance
that decisions are taken as carefully as possible to the citizen and the
consistency checks are made to confirm that action at the European Union level is
reasonable in the light of potential outcomes available at regional national or
local level. The areas that do not fall within exclusive competences under the
principle of subsidiarity then the Union will act only as the aims of the
suggested action as it cannot be sufficiently accomplished by the Member
States. The Lisbon Treaty3
has reinforced the role of both the Court of Justice and national parliaments
in monitoring compliance with the principle of subsidiarity. 


Similarly, to the principle of
subsidiarity, the principle of proportionality controls the practice of powers
by the European Union. It requires determining actions taken by European Union
institutions within specified bounds. Actions of the European Union must be
limited to what is compulsory to accomplish the aims of the Treaties under the
rule. The division between the European Union and its member countries is
illustrated in the Treaty of Lisbon. The actions in the principle of
proportionality will not exceed what is necessary to complete the aims of the
Treaties. The foundation of the Union should apply the principle of
proportionality as set down in the protocol on the practice of the principles
of subsidiarity and proportionality. In the case of R v Minister of Agriculture
it highlighted that there was a violation of the free movement of goods as the
economic activity can be proportionately prohibited, there would not be an
excessive effect. There are three steps to the principle of proportionality,
the following are suitability which measures if the legitimate aim is
achievable. The second step is the necessity which measures if the aim is
achievable or there are less restrictive means available and lastly
proportionality is to measure if the applicant’s interest has an excessive
effect. The Commissions applies the principles of subsidiarity and
proportionality to direct its initiatives and to evaluate the need for European
legislation, these both are future and existing. The rule of proportionality
suggests that, if an EU action ends up being important to accomplish the aims
of the Treaty, the European institutions should additionally inspect whether
legislative action is required or whether other adequately compelling means can
be utilized (financial help, support of collaboration between the Member States
by a Recommendation, prompting to make a move by a Resolution, and so forth.)


There is loads of discussion
during the law-making procedures, this is involving with national parliament
when it comes to the protocol of subsidiarity and proportionality.

“reasoned opinions’ can be produced within 8 weeks from national
parliament (Article 6 Protocol 2 to the TFEU) Article 6 Protocol 2 to the TFEU5.

There will be a review of the draft if there is 1/3 of national parliament
raise subsidiarity as an issue. The application of the Protocol of the
principles of subsidiarity and proportionality is in the Treaty of Lisbon. The
specifics that the Commissions are required to instantaneously send all its
draft legislative acts and its improved drafts to the Union legislator and to
the national parliaments of the Member States. Some draft that the European
Legislative act basically contains a detailed statement making it conceivable
to evaluate consistency with the principles of subsidiarity and
proportionality. The purposes behind presuming that a Union target can be
better accomplished at Union level must be substantiated by subjective and,
wherever conceivable, quantitative indicators. The one-third of the parliaments
feel that the draft European legislation does not obey with the principle of
subsidiarity, the Commission or the institution from which the draft
legislative act originates must analysis its proportion and decide whether to
keep up, alter or withdraw it. If the majority agrees in national parliament
with the complaint yet the Commission chooses to keep up its proportions, in
any case, the Commission should clarify its reasons, and it will be dependent
upon the European Parliament and the Council to choose whether to proceed with
the legislative procedure.      

Article 2-6 of the TFEU

2 Article
(5) TEU

The Treaty of Lisbon 2007

4 Case
C-331/88 R v Minister of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food ex parte Fedesa (1990)


Article 6 Protocol 2 to the TFEU 


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