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The author explores one of the critical points on the European Convention agenda: namely, the identification of criteria for the sharing of competences between Union and states (and regions wherever constitutionally envisaged). The Laeken Declaration formulates specific questions vis-à-vis the application of the subsidiarity principle and the protection of the interests of both European states and citizens. The author proposes a criterion for the definition of competences; partly to grant full political legitimacy to the Union, he distinguishes between competences assigned in the interests of Member States and those assigned to protect citizens’ interests. In the first case, the list of competences ought to be rigid and rigidly interpreted, and single States might freely decide not to grant specific functions to the Union and continue to exercise them themselves. In the second case, instead, the assignment of functions to the Union would be compulsory and the interpretation thereof more flexible. In numerous cases, moreover, it would be necessary to envisage the joint exercise of competences at federal and state level. The author, finally, specifies how the roles of the Council of Heads of State and Government and the Council of Parliaments (European and national) ought to be differentiated according to the two types of competence, application procedures (which need to be streamlined and modernised) and forms of jurisdictional control.