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The post-epidemic recovery should focus on rights, not the economy

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Commentary. Is our goal to return to normal, or do we want to design a new idea for our society? The truth is we can never go back.

written by Gaetano Azzariti

Topic Italy

May 29, 2020

The appeal to rebuild the country after the epidemic promoted by Sbilanciamoci! essentially focuses on economic issues, and tries to relaunch the role of public intervention after decades of neoliberalism running wild. This can only happen if the new economic policies are supported by an adequate legal culture capable of regulating the intervention of the public institutions. This is why the dialogue between the economy and law appears to be a necessary prerequisite for any action towards change. This is demonstrated by our history, marked by the divorce between the economy perceived as a natural order and law as an instrument at the service of the political order. The awareness that the classical liberals (without “neo-”) still had, namely that there is a legal order of the economy, has gradually faded.

That’s why we should act on this front by relaunching the idea that economic governance is by no means predetermined, but is the result of well-thought-out political decisions for development. This is, after all, only a small step, nothing more than the demystification of a falsehood. And yet, as a result of reaffirming the political nature of economic choices (including those that define the present state of affairs), a series of consequences will no longer be able to be denied. The first one is that political choices—and therefore also economic choices—in constitutional states have to respect fundamental principles held to be inalienable. It is the latter that must direct the economy (and not only), and not vice versa. This means replacing “budget limits,” which have been senselessly introduced even in the Constitution, with the limits imposed by the respect for fundamental rights. This has already been clearly laid out by our Constitutional Court (“The guarantee of inviolable rights that has an impact on the budget, not the balance of this budget, conditions its due disbursement”—Ruling No. 275 of 2016), it is now a matter of........

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