CJEU and the Social Market Economy Goal of the EU
15 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 22, 2014
From the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty the EU has among its constitutional objectives the goal of achieving a highly competitive social market economy. It is for the first time in the history of integration, that the concept of social market economy found its way into the Treaty objectives. At the same time, however, the EU has not been given any specific powers to actively develop social policies. The social market economy objective is therefore largely seen as a requirement for a more balanced approach in situations where liberalizing logic of the internal market and its economic freedoms collides with social rights and security systems, which are traditionally strong in many EU countries. Such understanding of the social market economy objective increases the role of European Court of Justice (CJEU), as the Member States, through the legislative process, have not shown so far any willingness to modify by legislative acts the relationship between economic freedoms and social rights. In the pre-Lisbon period the CJEU disappointed the left side of the EU´s political spectrum by several of its judgments in which the judges gave priority to economic freedoms over social rights. It is therefore interesting to review whether the CJEU has accepted the signal brought about by changes in the primary law of the EU and whether it has approached differently the balance between economic freedoms and social rights in the name of achieving the EU´s objective of social market economy.
Keywords: European Union, Lisbon Treaty, Court of Justice, Social Market Economy, Economic Freedoms, Social Rights
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