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'There's a brand new talk, but it's not very clear' : can the contemporary EU really be characterized as ordoliberal?

Cardwell, Paul James and Snaith, Holly (2018) 'There's a brand new talk, but it's not very clear' : can the contemporary EU really be characterized as ordoliberal? JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 56 (5). pp. 1053-1069. ISSN 1468-5965

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Abstract

Ordoliberalism has undergone a dramatic resurgence as a characterisation of the contemporary EU and its economic dimensions. Commentators have pointed to the ‘ordoliberalisation’ of EU economic policy with Germany at its core, albeit taking the role of a ‘reluctant hegemon’. Perhaps as a result of this pervasive influence, some have claimed that the EU is itself ordoliberal, resting on a particular understanding of the relationship between ordoliberalism and an ‘economic constitution’. For this claim to be substantiated, the characterisation of ordoliberalism needs to persist across time and the EU’s law and policy-making spaces. In this article, we examine this proposition, and argue that the influence of ordoliberalism can help a richer understanding of the contemporary EU beyond the confines of the economic constitution and into its evolving legal system(s).