The Social Market Economy is an intriguing concept, introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, in which two different areas, with their corresponding values, are juxtaposed in one term.
On the one hand side, these are economic rights and values, e.g. the freedom of services, the competition law, procurement law and state aid law. On the other hand these are social values. This is a very broad term, but refers in particular to workers’ rights. The latter rights can be threatened or restricted as a result of economic rights or values, for instance when the right to strike is used to combat social dumping, while the social dumping is the result of the exercise of the right to services. Some areas of labour law are exempted from the application of some economic rights, such as that collective agreements that are immune for competition law.
The Social Market Economy is in full development and is highly influenced by external circumstances as economic crises, political developments and popular sentiments.
Since for a European Union that needs trust in its institutions and good governance a good balance between economic and social rights is essential, the Social Market Economy is a core project for Renforce.
Currently the participants are now completing a special issue of the Utrecht Law Review on the Social Market Economy, that is due for early Summer 2019. In this special issue the interaction between economic and social rights is examined for several areas, including competition/procurement/state aid, free movement and migration, pensions and the digital economy.
Related to the social market economy is also the participation in the Future of work programme of the Faculty and the Future of Work hub of Utrecht University, where also the exercise of social rights by workers, the possibilities to improve the labour market position of vulnerable groups and the effects of the digitalization for the labour market are studied.