‘The Market’ of European integration: a constitutional problem

Troels Krarup*

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)


A rupture in the dominant economic and political ideology of European integration is often identified with the rise of neo-liberalism in the 1980s. Studies suggest, however, that inbuilt problems of liberalism pertaining to notions of ‘free markets’ and ‘unrestrained competition’ are also legally rooted as far back as in the Treaty of Rome. Drawing on recent developments in ‘problem analysis’ methodology, the article analyzes and compares the treaties of Rome (1957) and of Lisbon (2007) and identifies problems in them—conceptual tensions, uncertainties and contradictions—related to ‘the market’. I demonstrate that the decidedly negative determination of ‘the market’ (the absence of barriers to competition) has remained stable in the treaties. While acknowledging the substantial changes in policy and regulation that took place in the period, I argue that the problematic constitution of the market in the EU implies fundamental conceptual instabilities, for example, regarding the limits to competition. Moreover, I suggest that this problem is likely to emerge in market integration processes. Rather than forming a causal mechanism determining historical outcomes, such conceptual instabilities may be the basis for recurring problems across different domains and aspects of market integration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)671-688
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.


  • EU
  • Legal discourse
  • Market integration
  • Problem analysis
  • Treaty law


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