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Amsterdam Treaty

Volume 301: debated on Friday 21 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in what circumstances the principle of subsidiarity as set out in the Amsterdam Treaty is subordinate to (a) the 'acquis communautaire' and (b) EU law; and in what circumstances it could be used to repeal existing directives. [16964]

[holding answer 20 November 1997]:The protocol on subsidiarity in the Treaty of Amsterdam is not subordinate to the acquis communautaire or EU law. All protocols have Treaty force and are fully justiciable before the European Court of Justice. Paragraph 2 of the protocol says that:

"The application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality shall respect the general provisions and objectives of the Treaty, particularly as regards the maintaining in full of the acquis communautaire and the institutional balance."
As regards the repeal of existing European legislation, paragraph 3 of the subsidiarity protocol says that:

"Subsidiarity is a dynamic concept and should be applied in the light of the objectives set out in the Treaty. It allows Community action within the limits of its powers to be expanded where circumstances so require, and conversely, to be restricted or discontinued where it is no longer justified".