Views of modern science on the principle of subsidiarity: position review

Available in Russian

Price 100 Rub.

Author: Igor Irkhin

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2020-2-103-117

Keywords: autonomy; centralization; decentralization; principle of subsidiarity; solidarity


In this article the author examines the scientific approaches to the definition of the principle of subsidiarity, while also proposing his own definition of this principle. The author indicates various approaches to understanding this principle, distinguishes several modifications and models of the principle of subsidiarity. The author gives particular importance to the “political”, “administrative” and “legal” components of the principle of subsidiarity, focusing his attention on the fact that these elements of the principle of subsidiarity are considered by various specialists either in synthetic unity or separately from each other, their differentiated specific gravity is emphasized. It is indicated that the features of the legal configuration of the principle of subsidiarity imply a variability in the interpretation of specific conditions for its application, which actualizes the problems of the algorithmization of the actions of the relevant entities. The specified specificity gives dynamism to the principle of subsidiarity, which minimizes the potential for the development and application of universal methods for its implementation. As a prerequisite for the implementation of the principle of subsidiarity, the existence of a multi-level pluralistic model of public law and competition between levels of public authority on the list of competencies in the field of competence is indicated. The hypothesis is substantiated that in the structure of the principle of subsidiarity the priority is given to lower units in the organizational and functional aspect, and in the teleological aspect, previously agreed common interests that reflect the goals and prospects of joint development dominate. On this basis, the author considers the problems of applying the principle of subsidiarity in the context of the trends of centralization and decentralization and emphasizes the dualistic structure inherent in the considered principle. It is noted that subsidiarity implies not so much centralization as solidarity with respect to the primary goals and objectives of the national (supranational) and subnational levels of public authority, while the axiomatic significance of the principle of subsidiarity is manifested in strengthening decentralization, through which pluralization of the entire public administration system is ensured (a centralized model of public administration is not excluded, but not encouraged). It is concluded that the inherent functional-purpose setting of the principle of subsidiarity is to find the optimal balance between solidarity in relation to previously agreed fundamental goals and the diversification of methods and means of achieving them by subjects of multi-level public administration, in which the units of public authority closest to the population.

About the author: Igor Irkhin – Doctor of Sciences in Law, Kuban State Agrarian University named after I.T.Trubilin, Krasnodar, Russia.

Citation: Irkhin I. Vzglyady sovremennoy nauki na printsip subsidiarnosti: obzor pozitsiy [Views of modern science on the principle of subsidiarity: position review]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.29, no.2, pp.103–117. (In Russian).


Narutto S.V., Shugrina E.V., Isaev I.A., Alebastrova I.A. (2013) Territoriya v publichnom prave [Territory in public law], Moscow: Norma; Infra-M. (In Russian).

Anisimova N.V. (2005) Printsip subsidiarnosti v evropeyskom prave: Avtoref. dis. … kand. yurid. nauk [The principle of subsidiarity in European law: Abstract of a dissertation… candidate of legal science], Moscow. (In Russian).

Avakyan S.A. (ed.) (2014) Sovremennye problemy organizatsii publichnoy vlasti [Modern problems of public authority organization], Moscow: Yustitsinform. (In Russian).

Bermann G. (1994) Taking Subsidiarity Seriously: Federalism in the European Community and the United States. Columbia Law Review, vol.93, no.2, pp.332–456.

Bol'shakov S.N. (2009) Interpretatsiya printsipa subsidiarnosti: Evolyutsiya i podkhody: Doklad na Pyatyy Vserossiyskiy kongress politologov, 21 noyabrya 2009 goda [Interpretation of the principle of subsidiarity: evolution and approaches]. Available at: (accessed: 24.10.2019). (In Russian).

Bol'shakov S.N. (2013) Kontsept subsidiarnosti v sisteme sovremennogo demokraticheskogo upravleniya [The concept of subsidiarity in the system of modern democratic governance]. Problemnyy analiz i gosudarstvenno-upravlencheskoe proektirovanie, vol.6, pp.20–30. (In Russian).

Borońska-Hryniewiecka K. (2013) Legitimacy through Subsidiarity? The Parliamentary Control of EU Policy-Making. Polish Political Science Review, vol.1, no.1, pp.84–100.

Brennan P. (2012) Subsidiarity in the Tradition of Catholic Social Doctrine: Villanova University Widger School of Law Working Paper Series, pp.1–19. Available at: (accessed: 10.04.2020).

Buijze A. (2014) Shared Regulatory Regimes through the Lens of Subsidiarity: Towards a Substantive Approach. Utrecht Law Review, vol.10, no.5, pp.67–79.

Burbidge D. (2017) The Inherently Political Nature of Subsidiarity. The American Journal of Jurisprudence, vol.62, no.2, pp.143–164.

Čepukaitė A., Šilėnas Ž. (2008) The Principle of Subsidiarity: Concept and Criteria. Review, no.9: (De)Centralization Under Examination, pp.8–23. Available at: (accessed: 10.04.2020).

Chaplin J. (1997) Subsidiarity: The Concept and the Connections. Ethical Perspectives, vol.4, no.2, pp.117–130.

Colombo A. (2009) “Lombardo Model”: Subsidiarity-informed Regional Governance. Social Policy & Administration, vol.42, no.2, pp.177–196.

Craig P. (2012) Subsidiarity, a Political and Legal Analysis. Journal of Common Market Studies, vol.50, pp.72–87. Available at: (accessed: 10.04.2020).

Davies G.T. (2006) Subsidiarity: The wrong idea, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Common Market Law Review, vol.43, no.1, pp.63–84.

Fabbrini F. (2018) The Principle of Subsdidiarity. In: Schütze R., Tridimas T. (eds.) Oxford Principles of European Union Law. Vol.1: European Union Legal Order, Oxford : Oxford University Press, pp.221–242.

Gaganova N.A. (2006) Printsip subsidiarnosti v konstitutsionnom prave: Avtoref. dis. … kand. yurid. nauk [Principle of subsidiarity in constitutional law], Moscow. (In Russian).

Grigoryan A.S. (2016) K voprosu o pravovoy prirode printsipa subsidiarno­sti [On the legal nature of the principle of subsidiarity]. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, Seriya 5: Yurisprudentsiya, no.3, pp.139–146.

Iwuagwu E. (2016) The Socio-Ethical Principle of Subsidiarity: A Philosophical Appraisal of Its Relevance in the Contemporary World. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, vol.6, no.12, pp.174–183.

Jachtenfuchs M., Krisch N. (2016) Subsidiarity in Global Governance. Law and Contemporary Problems, vol.79, no.2, pp.1–26. Available at: (accessed: 10.04.2020).

Kharitonova O.G. (2013) Katolitsizm i sovremennost': Demokratiya v sotsi­al'noy doktrine Rimsko-katolicheskoy tserkvi. Politicheskaya nauka, no.2, pp.81–99.

Kvitka S.A. (2015). Printsip subsidiarnosti ta protsesi detsentralizatsii v Ukraine [Principle of subsidiarity and decentralization processes in Ukraine]. Aspekti Publichnogo Upravlinnya, no.3, pp.28–35. (In Ukrainian).

Llach J. (2013) What Role for Subsidiarity in Emerging Schemes of Governance. In: Governance in a Changing World: Meeting the Challenges of Liberty, Legitimacy, Solidarity, and Subsidiarity Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Extra Series, no.14, Vatican City. Available at: (accessed: 24.10.2019).

Lupo N. (2017) The Scrutiny of the Principle of Subsidiarity in the Procedures and Reasoned Opinions of the Italian Chamber and Senate. In: Jonsson Cornell A., Goldoni M. (eds.) National and Regional Parliaments in the EU-legislative Procedure Post-Lisbon: The Impact of the Early Warning Mechanism, Oxford; Portland, OR: Hart Publishing, pp.225–252.

Macdonald R.G. (1993) In defense of subsidiarity. Philosophy Now, no.6, pp.22–23. Available at: (accessed: 10.04.2020).

Marchenko M.N., Deryabina E.M. (2012) Pravovaya sistema Evropeyskogo soyuza: monografiya [European Union Legal System: Monograph], Moscow: Norma; Infra-M. (In Russian).

Martinico G. (2011) The Impact of “Regional Blindness” on the Italian Regional State: IDEIR Working paper No.2011/05. Available at: (accessed: 10.04.2020).

Murray A. (1995) The Principle of Subsidiarity and the Church. The Australasian Catholic Record, vol.72, no.2, pp.163–172. Available at: (accessed: 10.04.2020).

O’Brien R. (2013) Subsidiarity in Asia. Journal of International Business Ethics, vol.6, no.1–2, pp.11–18.

Petrić D. (2017) The Principle of Subsidiarity in the European Union: “Gobbledygook” Entrapped Between Justiciability and Political Scrutiny? The Way Forward. Zagrebačka pravna revija, vol.6, no.3, pp.287–318.

Pimenova O.I. (2015). Subsidiarnost' kak printsip realizatsii sovmestnykh zakonodatel'nykh polnomochiy: opyt Evropeyskogo Soyuza i perspektivy ego adaptatsii v rossiyskoy sisteme razgranicheniya polnomochiy po predmetam sovmestnogo vedeniya [Subsidiarity as a principle for the implementation of joint legislative powers: the experience of the European Union and the prospects for its adaptation in the Russian system of delimitation of powers in matters of joint jurisdiction], Moscow: Novoe Vremya. (In Russian).

Pimenova O.I. (2017) Pravovaya integratsiya v ES i eyo “natsional'noe” izmerenie [Legal integration in the EU and its “national” dimension]. Pravo. Zhurnal Vysshey shkoly ekonomiki, no.3, pp.136–153. (In Russian).

Pimenova O.I. (2017) Subsidiarnost' kak nravstvennaya, filosofskaya i pravovaya kategoriya [Subsidiarity as a moral, philosophical and legal category]. Aktual'nye problemy rossiyskogo prava, no.11, pp.37–47. (In Russian).

Ponomaryov M.V. (2009) Printsip subsidiarnosti – dialektika svobody i otvetstvennosti [The principle of subsidiarity – the dialectic of freedom and responsibility]. Vestnik Moskovskogo gosudarstvennogo pedago­gicheskogo universiteta. Seriya “Yuridicheskie nauki”, no.1, pp.56–63. (In Russian).

Ritzer C., Ruttloff M., Linhart K. (2006) How to Sharpen a Dull Sword – The Principle of Subsidiarity and its Control. German Law Journal, vol.7, pp.734–760.

Shilling T. (1995) Subsidiarity as a Rule and a Principle, or: Taking Subsidiarity Seriously. Available at: (accessed: 09.04.2020).

Sirico R. (1997) Subsidiarity, Society, and Entitlements: Understanding and Application. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, vol.11, no.2, pp.549–579.

Spicker P. (1991) The Principle of Subsidiarity and the Social Policy of the European Community. Journal of European Social Policy, vol.1, no.1. pp.3–14.

Tikhomirova L.A. (2011) Printsip subsidiarnosti kak osnova vzaimootnoshe­niy Rossiyskoy Federatsii i eyo sub'ektov [The principle of subsidiarity as the basis for the relationship between the Russian Federation and its subjects]. Pravo I Politika, no.2, pp.152–164. (In Russian).

Timmermans C. (1998) Subsidiarity and Transparency. Fordham International Law Journal, vol.22, no.6, pp.106–127.

Umnova I. (2012) Problemy defederalizatsii i perspektivy optimizatsii sovremennoy rossiyskoy modeli razgranicheniya predmetov vedeniya i polnomochiy v kontekste doktriny subsidiarnosti [Problems of defederalization and prospects for optimization of the modern Russian model of differentiation of the subjects of conduct and authority in the context of the doctrine of subsidiarity]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.21, no.2, pp.45–55. (In Russian).

Vinter G. (2005) Subsidiarnost' i normotvorchestvo v ramkakh evropeyskoy mnogourovnevoy sistemy upravleniya [Subsidiarity and rulemaking in the framework of the European multilevel management system]. Pravo i politika, no.11, pp.51–74. (In Russian).

Visser J. (2010) Institutional Subsidiarity in the South African Constitution. Stellenbosch Law Review, vol.21, pp.90–105.

Zimmermann A. (2014) Subsidiarity and a Free Society. Policy, vol.30, no.4, pp.15–18.

Zimmermann A. (2018) Subsidiarity and a Free Society: The Subsidiarity Role of the State in Catholic Social Teaching. Solidarity: The Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Secular Ethics, vol.8, no.2, pp.7–8. Available at: (accessed: 10.04.2020).