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Acknowledging a deficit of liberal arguments in the European integration project, this article examines the reasons behind widespread continental diffidence towards liberalism as a political tradition of negative liberty. Considered a ‘bad’ ingredient for the building of a unitary form of politics, negative liberalism is thus distinct from ‘good’ liberalism, which is oriented towards the values of equality and fraternity, hence committed to drastically reducing the priority of liberty over equality. The author traces the respectability of this positive, egalitarian liberalism in European public discourse to the way the left positions it, in a reductive and dated version of the right/left dyad, which reserves to the right attachment to liberty as such, while confirming it only in dimensions closest to equality. The author questions this operation by stressing the need, in European discourse, to recover the political value of liberty as a negative ideal.