The Language of Ordoliberalism and European Competition Law

Volume 340 of the Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte out now

November 10, 2023

Anselm Küster’s innovative study shines a light on the ordoliberal school of competition thought as a distinctive linguistic community whose conceptual and semantic influence extended far beyond the borders of Germany and contributed decisively to the shaping of European competition law. The negotiations on the founding treaties of the European Community were still marked by diverse normative notions of what competition is and what role it should play. However, the scholarly discourse as well as the decisions by the European Commission and the verdicts by the European Courts definitely carried the imprint of ordoliberalism, the competition concept promoted by the Freiburg School.

Ordoliberal language dominated the field of European competition law until the reforms of the ‘More Economic Approach’ (MEA), initiated by the Commission in the early 2000s, which gave precedence to other concepts and semantics that were borrowed from the classic Chicago School and the new literature on Industrial Organisation (IO). This set in motion a neo-liberal phase of European competition policy.

In his in-depth analysis of this development, Küsters combines archival material, oral history interviews, jurisprudence, and Text Mining methods. His study represents a major contribution to the historiography of the intellectual foundations of EU competition law, to the history of post-war ordoliberalism, and to the methodological debate about Digital Humanities in the Social Sciences.

In 2023, Anselm Küsters was awarded the Max Planck Society’s Otto Hahn Medal as well as the Roman Herzog Research Prize for Social Market Economy for outstanding scientific achievements and for the dissertation upon which this book is based.

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