Neoliberalism represents the revival of economic liberalism that has been taking place since the late 1970s. Its main premise is that the market is morally and practically superior to government and any form of political control intended to improve on market outcomes. Central and Eastern European countries (CEEs) were global leaders in the adoption of neoliberal ideas and policies during the 1990s and 2000s. Almost all CEEs adopted neoliberal ideas and policies at a dramatic rate and are now among the most open economies in Europe. This was particularly true during the early transition period, when neoliberalism emerged as a virtually unchallenged ideology strongly dominating the course of economic and political reforms in the region. CEEs largely followed the script written by the authors of the Washington consensus and implemented monetary stabilization, economic liberalization, and a grand-scale privatization of the largely state-owned economy. This article traces the role of law during the first 25 years of transition and its relationship with neoliberal policies and institutions that were put in place in CEEs. It does so chronologically, through three different periods of transition, which also represent the quite different roles that the law assumed in the process.


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