What is Left of the European Economic Constitution?
The essay starts from the assumption that the efforts to cure Europe’s democracy deficits will also have to address the social problématique of the Europeanization process. This is a challenge with new dimensions. Europe had started its integrationist path as a mere economic community. In its formative era, the constitutional perspectives of German Ordo-liberalism were attractive. In the ordo-liberal account, the European polity has a twofold structure: At supranational level, it is committed to economic rationality and a system of undistorted competition. Redistributive (social) policies could – and should – be left to the Member States. This edifice was refined in the 1970s and 80s. Monetary Union and the Stability Pact completed it. The German Constitutional Court’s Maastricht judgment endorsed its constitutional validity. However, the new dynamics and the strive for an ever closer Union in the Maastricht Treaty has led to a strengthening of European regulatory policies and a broadening of their scope, which were incompatible with the ordo-liberal legacy. The erosion of the economic constitution has not paved the way to a cure for Europe’s social deficit. Neither the Open Method of Co-ordination nor the commitment to a social market economy in the Constitutional Treaty nor the new social rights provide a conceptually sufficient and politically credible basis for this end.