With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the new wording of Art. 3, para. 3, the social market economy has had a particular meaning for the sustainable development of Europe. This was regarded as a useful way to overcome the economic and financial crisis and to rekindle confidence in the process of European integration. So, the choices of eco- nomic policy are increasingly oriented in a ‘social’ perspective, promoting certain social rights and environmental protection, necessary to correct the imbalances caused by a system based only on efficiency. After a brief introduction to the economic theory, the paper focuses on two guidelines of social economy: social rights and environmental protection. Special attention is devoted to implication of the new relationship, no longer in opposition, between social rights and the market, between environmental protection and competition rules, and to the transposition in the legislation of the new paradigm.
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