In secular Europe, it is rare for politicians to suggest that the European Union's expansive, imperious policies should be reformed by implementing a Christian doctrine. Yet that is precisely what a manifesto aimed at curbing EU excesses has done.
The document proposes paring back the EU's authority in the name of subsidiarity, the Catholic principle that a higher level of government should refrain from intervening in the actions of a lower level of government (and, we should add, in the actions of civil society). "The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism," The Catechism of the Catholic Church states. "It sets limits for state intervention." Such a program inherently diminishes the autonomy of global governance bodies like the EU.
The “Manifesto of Slovak Eurorealism" - issued to mark the 60th anniversary of signing of the Treaty of Rome - was written by Richard Sulik, a Member of European Parliament (MEP) and leader of the opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) Party in Slovakia. He's also a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.
The manifesto answers the challenge by Europhiles that reformers offer something beyond a critique of Brussels' bureaucratization:
This manifesto is an answer to all those who are accusing us of constant criticism without concrete solutions. Well, here they are – 23 very concrete and, with enough political will, practicable proposals. And, as a heads-up to our voters – whenever there is an opportunity, we will act in line with the proposed changes.
The manifesto endorses European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's fourth possible scenario for the EU's future, contained in a white paper that he released in March: "doing less, more efficiently."
Sulik notes that the solution was present within the EU's governing document. The Lisbon Treaty formally establishes subsidiarity by name in Article 5(3), saying that the EU will intervene in local affairs only if "the member states cannot sufficiently achieve the objectives of the proposed action at the central level or regional and local level and can ... be better achieved by the Union.”
That ambiguity furnishes the European Union with far too much discretion:
[W]ords such as "satisfactorily" and "better" give too much room for subjective decisions and disputes. We believe that the principle of subsidiarity should be defined so that if something can be decided by the member states alone, it should not be decided by the EU. The question whether member states’ decisions are better or worse should not play a role ... [T]he key is whether they can decide on the matter at all.
The manifesto proposes that the EU establish a Subsidiarity Court, a concept Sulik credits to former German President Roman Herzog, a proponent of subsidiarity who passed away this January. (Interestingly, the report also quotes the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, marking a transatlantic contribution to limited government.) This court would review whether EU actions accorded with the principle of national and local sovereignty. However, its rulings would be subject to appeals made to the European Court of Justice.
If implemented, subsidiarity would not only increase member states' self-determination but reduce their tax and regulatory burden.
Subsidiarity brings savings
Due to the shrinking role of the EU in the lives of the remaining 27 member states, the report suggests the abolition of two advisory bodies and nine standing committees. That pillar alone would save members at least €322 million and reduce the bureaucracy by more than 1,700 employees.
In addition, Sulik would halve the number of MEPs from 751 to 376 and fire "thousands" of the European Commission's 33,000 employees.