The Unfolding Contradictions of Neoliberal Competition Regulation and the Global Economic Crisis: A Missed Opportunity for Change?

  • Angela Wigger
  • Hubert Buch-Hansen
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


With the ascendancy of neoliberal ‘free market’ doctrines in the 1980s, competition has gradually become a totalising and all-pervasive logic within EU institutions and policies. It is argued that intensified competition boosts the overall competitiveness of European economies and increases social welfare, delivers sustainable economic growth, and more recently, even cures the root causes of the current economic crisis. The idea that the sheer exposure to global competition auto-matically leads to increased competitiveness was first endorsed in the European Commission’s White Paper on Competitiveness, Growth and Employment in 1993. In the Lisbon Agenda of 2000, to outcompete the rest of the world by making the European Union the world’s most competitive and knowledge-based economy in 2010 was even declared official EU policy. Notwithstanding the embarrassing failure of this over-ambitious headline goal, a failure that became apparent long before the current global economic crisis (see Kok 2004), the European Commission’s successor strategy Europe 2020 continues to be immersed in the same orthodox neoliberal spirit. The prioritization of the role of free market forces and the need for efficiency and unbridled economic growth live on.


European Union Competition Regulation Global Economic Crisis Global Crisis Lisbon Agenda 
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Copyright information

© Angela Wigger and Hubert Buch-Hansen 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Wigger
  • Hubert Buch-Hansen

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