How many people have ever heard of this word before? I've got a pretty comprehensive vocabulary and I had to look it up.
Turns out it actually had a prominent placement in the founding documents of the European Union.... Thought some others might find this interesting
European Union law
Subsidiarity is perhaps presently best known as a general principle of European Union law. According to this principle, the EU may only act (i.e. make laws) where action of individual countries is insufficient. The principle was established in the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht. However, at the local level it was already a key element of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, an instrument of the Council of Europe promulgated in 1985 (see Article 4, Paragraph 3 of the Charter) (which states that the exercise of public responsibilities should be decentralised). Subsidiarity is similar in concept to, but should not be confused with Margin of appreciation.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidiarity
Subsidiarity was established in EU law by the Treaty of Maastricht, which was signed on 7 February 1992 and entered into force on 1 November 1993. The present formulation is contained in Article 5(3) of the Treaty on European Union (consolidated version following the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009):
Under the principle of subsidiarity, in areas which do not fall within its exclusive competence, the Union shall act only if and in so far as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, either at central level or at regional and local level, but can rather, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at Union level.
A more descriptive analysis of the principle can be found in Protocol 30 to the European Community Treaty .
Formally, the principle of subsidiarity applies to those areas where the Community does not have exclusive competence, the principle delineating those areas where the Community should and should not act. In practice, the concept is frequently used in a more informal manner in discussions as to which competences should be given to the Community, and which retained for the Member States alone.
The concept of subsidiarity therefore has both a legal and a political dimension. Consequently, there are varying views as to its legal and political consequences, and various criteria are put forward explaining the content of the principle. For example:
The action must be necessary because actions of individuals or member-state governments alone will not achieve the objectives of the action (the sufficiency criterion)
The action must bring added value over and above what could be achieved by individual or member-state government action alone (the benefit criterion).
Decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the citizen (the close to the citizen criterion)
The action should secure greater freedoms for the individual (the autonomy criterion).