Annals of the Fondazione Luigi Einaudi

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Economics, History and Political Science

The Annals is a forum for the free exchange of ideas
among scholars working in the field of social sciences
Volume LIII 2 - 2019

Making Neoliberal Narratives of European Integration. The Case of the Institute of Economic Affairs (1970s-1980s)

Roberto Ventresca,
pp. 249-270
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This article deals with the origins, the spread and the consolidation of the so called ‘neoliberal school of thought’ across the European Economic Community (EEC) area between the 1970s and the 1980s. In order to assess whether, how and to what extent neoliberal-oriented policies emerged and interwove with the making of the European economic and monetary integration processes, the case-study of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) will be analysed. Established in 1955 in London by the businessman Antony Fisher and explicitly endorsed by Friedrich von Hayek, the IEA rapidly became one of the most prominent international think-thanks committed to the strengthening of free-market values throughout the Western world. In this respect, by exploring the scientific and political ‘outputs’ (such as books, papers, newspaper articles, proceedings, as well as private correspondence of significant IEA’s members) that the IEA issued on the subject of European integration, this contribution aims first and foremost at understanding how this think-tank looked at the setting up of the 1970s’ and 1980s’ EEC monetary and economic policymaking. In doing so, this paper will investigate whether and how neoliberal intellectuals paid specific attention to the ‘European project’ as a whole and whether the neoliberal school of thought contributed, directly or indirectly, to influence the climate of economic and political opinion within which European integration took shape in the 1970s and the 1980s. Thus, this article will assess whether the IEA conceived the political and institutional framework of the EEC as one of its own areas of intellectual interest and intervention.