European politics and the Neoliberal paradigm

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This paper looks at the European integration project in its current iteration drawing on Karl Polanyi’s assertion that markets are inseparable from the socio-cultural context. In this regard, all attempts to liberalise the economy (not excluding European integration, which is based on the principle of the single market) have practical and indeed tangible political ramifications. The main hypothesis of the paper lies in the recognition of the fact that the neoliberal agenda is one of the defining features of European integration. It is after all, the project of the single market, with its free movement of goods, services, capital, and labour that underpins European Union integrative practice.

Secondly, it is the presupposition of this paper, that there is a certain degree of congruence between the economic elites, operating within the neoliberal framework, and the centre-left political elites. The argument here is that the logic of neoliberalism has been fundamentally accepted across the mainstream of the political spectrum. This consequently means that even left-wing parties have had to reposition themselves both ideologically and practically, which brings the conclusion that the market has lost its role as the basic ideological differentiator between the traditional right and left. The axis of political debate has consequently shifted to moral issues such as the relationship between the state and the church, immigration, and gender.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-111
Number of pages20
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of European Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

User-Defined Keywords

  • EU
  • neoliberalism
  • democracy deficit
  • political ideologies


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