Letter: The search for subsidiarity

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Sir: You report in your issue of 15 October that Jacques Delors is seeking a succinct definition of subsidiarity.

A letter in your issue of 17 October claims the pounds 140,000 prize for one suggestion.

Here is another:

Subsidiarity is the practice applied by the European Community whereby, in connection with any legislation, obligation or requirement, found by its Court of Justice to be within its own competence, or that of any of its institutions; any member state may make a specific request for the maintenance, or creation, of a legal frontier that would not otherwise occur between it and any other member or third state; and that proposal being made by the Commission is enacted by the Council of Ministers in accordance with procedures already adopted for the relevant category of legislation.

This might be a definition acceptable to Mr Delors in the context of his appeal, but whether it would be accepted more widely is a matter for debate.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Newham South (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1