The subsidiarity principle was formally adopted in 1992 by the European Union to limit excessive centralization of competences. According to the subsidiarity test, a given policy responsibility should be allocated to the lowest possible level of government, unless there is evidence that the central government (the Union) has a comparative advantage in fulfilling the task under consideration. Contrary to its stated goal, the adoption of the subsidiarity principle was followed by a wave of intense centralization. In this paper, we address this paradox by studying the effects and the limitations of the subsidiarity test in promoting an optimal level of centralization.
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