Federal Minister Gernot Blümel: Strengthen subsidiarity as a building principle of Europe
EU Subsidiarity Conference on 15 and 16 November 2018 in Bregenz – positive verdict following the conference
On 15 and 16 November 2018 the conference “Subsidiarity as a building principle of the European Union” took place in Bregenz under the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Among the high‑level guests welcomed by Federal Minister Gernot Blümel were Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission and Chairman of the Task Force on Subsidiarity, Proportionality and “Doing Less More Efficiently”, Karl‑Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, and Markus Wallner, Governor of Vorarlberg.
“Under the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU, we have the opportunity to once again bring subsidiarity as the key to a Europe aligned with citizens’ concerns more to the fore of the political debate”,
Federal Minister Blümel said in conclusion.
In his view, the principle of subsidiarity is a crucial cornerstone of our common Europe. This means that the European Union has to work on solutions for big challenges – such as in the areas of migration, security and climate change. At the same time, he added, the EU has to take a step back when it comes to questions where member states or regions are in a better position to take decisions. A consistent application of this principle would allow to bring the European Union closer to its citizens and improve their trust in the EU.
Frans Timmermans, the First Vice-President of the European Commission and Chairman of the Task Force on Subsidiarity and Proportionality was satisfied with how the 2‑day conference had proceeded and spoke about the importance of the principle of subsidiarity:
“The discussion on how we can improve and simplify legislation has been successful. The Bregenz Declaration means we can ensure that European legislation is improved. Europe is important for all of us. If politicians do not assume responsibility for our common European destiny at all levels, then even the best legislation will not convince citizens. Europe must do what is necessary. What is not necessary can best be left to the member states, who can then decide whether to leave it to the regions. That is how we must organise Europe.”
Within the framework of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and together with political decision makers, experts and citizens, Austria wants to focus on further developing the common understanding of the term "subsidiarity" and applying it in a consistent and better way. The 2‑day conference in Bregenz played an important part in looking more closely at the principle of subsidiarity and the concrete application of this principle at European level.
Karl‑Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions, emphasised the importance of regional levels of administration in implementing EU legislation.
“The local and regional authorities have concrete experience of implementing the majority of EU legislative measures. They know what works and what can go wrong. Their close involvement is therefore of crucial importance.”
Governor Markus Wallner stressed:
“The future of the EU lies in a Europe in which strong regions set the pace for European integration! The Bregenz Declaration is an important contribution to an EU that is more aligned with citizens’ concerns. What we now need is for regions and countries to be more involved in European decision‑making processes. This is the only way to regain citizens’ lost trust in the EU and its institutions.”
The first part of the 2‑day conference saw participants gain a greater understanding of the term “subsidiarity” by looking at various different economic, legal, political and historical perspectives.
The second part consisted of a practical test and a status report. This involved examining to what extent the principle of subsidiarity is applied at present and in which areas this can be felt.
In the final third part, political decision makers discussed how the common understanding of the term "subsidiarity" can be further developed and strengthened. An analysis also provided closer scrutiny of the application of the principle on a political level.
More information about this event can be found on the event page.