Economic freedom and economic rights: Direction, significance and ideology

Christopher Harding

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The discussion here takes stock of and analyses the way in which ideas of economic freedom and basic economic rights have evolved during the last half century to generate legal discourse and legal action, and with what effect, with particular reference to Europe as a site for such developments. It is necessary to probe the understanding and purpose of such ‘rights talk’ and also to set the discourse in relevant ideological contexts. For the purpose of this exercise, a broad distinction is drawn between two major categories of economic right. The first category may be broadly described as ‘integration rights’—entrepreneurial in character, forward-looking and opportunistic in a historical context of supranational integration and trade liberalisation. The second category, in contrast, may be termed ‘vulnerability rights’; these are more protective in character, and serve to enhance the opportunities of the economically disadvantaged, those sections of the population at risk of social exclusion and poverty. An assessment is made, on the one hand, of the achievement of the movement to exploit integration rights, and on the other hand, the prospect for the mobilisation and assertion of vulnerability rights in the wake of governmental policies of austerity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-35
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Law Journal
Issue number1
Early online date13 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2018


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