Subsidiarity and Ecologically Based Taxation: Aspirations and Options

  • Jürgen G. Backhaus


The principle of subsidiarity, since it became part of the treaty of Maastricht and thereby of European constitutional law, has received a lot of attention. Its relationship to ecological issues, however, has to my knowledge rarely been explored. Subsidiarity is a perfectly generalizable principle of Organization. It can apply to all areas of policy, financial, agricultural, technological, education, defense, economic development and, of course, environmental policy. The principle of subsidiarity is an organizing principle. Taken as such, it is silent about the specific purpose, direction or content of a particular policy. Whatever be the purpose of the policy, the principle of subsidiarity requires that it be carried out within that context which is the smallest viable one in which the objective can successfully be attained. When a task is too complicated for a small unit such as an office or a firm to be successfully performed, that unit has to be augmented to the point where the task can be effectively performed. Likewise, if an Organization is too large to successfully handle particular problems as its procedures may be too combersome, as it lacks sufficient detailed information or experiences repeated recurrence of problems it once has tried to settle, than a different organizational form must be found, preferably an existing one, which is closer to the problem at hand and able to carry out the policy at hand. It goes without saying that with the shift in responsibility will also travel the access to resources with which to carry out the task.


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Copyright information

© Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden 1995

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  • Jürgen G. Backhaus

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