The paper develops five interconnected claims: 1) the appropriation of the principle of social market economy by the European Union has not generated a pan-European social market economy 2) the incorporation of this principle contributes to a socially-minded recalibration of previous EU regulatory strategies and enables the expansion of EU powers in the social sphere 3) this process nourishes a tension between EU recalibrated policies aiming at the transformation of national social market economies and national actors resisting this policy agenda 4) the legitimacy of the transformative agenda of the EU is called into question 5) in the current political and economic circumstances, the Union should reconsider its approach to the social: rather than promoting a pan-European social market economy, it should pursue a more modest agenda aimed at strengthening national social market economies in the circumstances of economic interdependence.
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