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Multi-level governance and the principle of active subsidiarity

These two notions are today at the heart of European policy-making but remain largely ignored in France by the State administration and by the majority of elected politicians.

Multi-level governance is based on the observation that in today’s societies, no serious problem can be fully addressed at one level. Therefore, instead of exhausting oneself in ’clarifying competences’ by attributing exclusive competences to each level, it is better to recognise the obvious and define the rules of cooperation between the different levels of governance for the production of the common good.

The principle of active subsidiarity complements this. If we want to impose uniform standards on all territories, leaving no room for individual specificity or creativity, we lose out on all fronts in terms of autonomy and efficiency. However, in interdependent societies, it is not possible to let each territory act as it pleases regardless of the consequences for the others.

The principle of active subsidiarity derives from learning communities. It aims, in all areas, to replace the obligation of uniform means with an obligation of result: to implement the guiding principles drawn from collective experience, allowing each territory to translate them to the best of its ability.

See the document La gouvernance à multi-niveaux