Subsidiarity and response to the economic crisis

The global market is being affected by a deep and protracted economic and financial crisis that has had a significant impact throughout Europe. Since the euro  crisis in 2008, all Countries have experienced the difficulties associated with ensuring sustainability of public accounts.

In the face of this context of uncertainty and economic crisis in the global arena, two contrasting trends can be appreciated: recentralisation vs. subsidiarity. Euskadi is a firm supporter of implementing decentralisation policies in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. This model, developed by what in Europe is known as a “subnational body having legislative powers and an executive government”, has proven to be more effective in tackling the negative effects of the situation we are suffering. 

When the context is as complex as the one we are going through, all institutional, political, economic or social actors must get involved in the crisis resolution and contribute to mitigate the negative impact it has on society. It is not hard to recognise that “subnational entities” are closer to these social and economic agents and thus, to the people. 

Making use of these legislative powers, as subnational governments we can act reactively and pro-actively in the design and implementation of anti-crisis policies, achieving more positive and effective results. This same principle can also be applied in the States made up of diverse national or territorial realities and with a strong individual personality, as it is the Basque case.

Besides, the subsidiarity principle carries with it the implementation of the three basic premises of contemporary governance: transparency, responsibility and civic participation. This way, the Government must explain and communicate better the implementation of its public policies and the evaluation of their results; it must exercise the powers conferred assuring its accountability to the citizens; finally, it must Foster participation in the design, assessment of priorities and  implementation of the initiatives it develops through its public function.  

This has been the case in Euskadi, where we have implemented a subsidiarity-oriented policy that has proven to be effective in the response to the situation of economic and unemployment crisis.

For all this, we are pleased that the ORU’s next Assembly, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in April 2016, is going to address these issues. During these tough economic times in which many are tempted to recentralise, it will be very useful to deal with issues that are intrinsically our own, and to rescue the concept of subsidiarity, forgotten by some, from the dictionary. 


Iñigo Urkullu

Lehendakari of the Basque Government

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