The Assembly of European Regions reckons no-one takes the concept of subsidiarity seriously enough in Europe and so they have embarked on a campaign to do something about it. So they decided to get one of their staff to jump off the old bridge in Mostar while at the same time the entire crowd watching shouted ‘Subsidiarity’, trying to get a new world record for the largest number of people shouting subsidiarity all at once. I don’t suspect anyone’s ever tried to set that record before, and I wonder whether the Guiness Book of Records accepts such things?
If you’re interested the AER press release is here, and the jump is 3:50 into the video below. Judging by the crowd they probably did set some sort of record.
AER’s idea is that the word subsidiarity should be included in more dictionaries, and also in the spellchecker in Microsoft Word (it’s already in the one in WordPress!) as it’s such a vital concept for the future of the EU… The principle in itself is fine (it’s central to federalism as far as I’m concerned) but why, oh why, would you want to jump off a bridge to talk about a rather arcane concept of governmental organisation? It’s beyond me, and I even know what subsidiarity is and I think it’s important.
At lunch today with a friend we tried to work out what would be the most EU-geekish thing you could do in a similar vein. We reckoned we should get Richard Corbett to jump off the top of the Pont de Buda in Brussels, and get a crowd to scream ‘Comitology’!
This is not a campaign, it’s a movement based on three, incremental steps:
Step 1: Ensure that dictionaries and spell-checkers recognise the word, since most people outside Brussels don’t know it (since the word is clearly not “in so many mouths” outside the Brussels bubble);
Step 2: Once ordinary people recognise and understand the word, they’re more likely to hold their EU and state level decision-makers to account, particularly when it comes to the incoming Lisbon Treaty’s provisions extending the principle to local and regional levels (the treaty refers to the word no less than 30 times);
Step 3: Once decision-makers start respecting the principle (not just on paper, but in practice), Europe will finally be on the path towards truly multi-level, democratic governance in which citizens are empowered and engaged, rather than stifled and ignored.
If subsidiarity is not a “realistic concept” , then I don’t know what is.
This won’t lead to anything. The word “subsidiarity” is already in so many mouths, and repeating it does not help the cause.
Activists should try to promote realistic concepts with PR-campaigns, not trying to get world records for single words.