EU POLITICAL SYSTEMUnitsUnit Five EU Competences and PoliciesSTEP 3. The limitations to EU competences

STEP 3. The limitations to EU competences

The exercise of EU competences is subject to three fundamental principles. The first is the principle of conferral that we have already mentioned in Step 1.

The second is the principle of proportionality, which refers to the fact that the content and scope of EU action may not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaties. In other words, the content and form of the action must be in line with the aim that is being pursued.

The third is the principle of subsidiarity, namely, in the area of its non-exclusive competences, the EU may act only if — and in so far as — the objective of a proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, but could be better achieved at EU level. The rationale of this principle is to guarantee that decisions are normally taken as closely as possible to the citizens. This means that, in the area of non-exclusive competences, the EU normally does not act unless its action is more effective than action taken at national, regional or local level.