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The political economy of industrial policy in the European Union

Fabio Bulfone

No 20/12, MPIfG Discussion Paper from Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies

Abstract: The Great Recession renewed calls for a return of state activism in support of the European economy. The widespread nationalization of ailing companies and the growing activism of national development banks led many to celebrate the reappearance of industrial policy. By reviewing the evolution of the goals, protagonists, and policy instruments of industrial policy since the postwar period, this paper shows how state intervention never ceased to be a crucial engine of growth across the EU. It argues that the decline of the Fordist wage-led production regime marked a turning point in the political economy of industrial policy with the transition from inward-looking to open-market forms of state intervention. The main features of open-market industrial policy are then discussed referring to the cases of the internationalization of national champions in public service sectors and the proliferation across the EU of industrial clusters. Finally, the paper reviews postcrisis instances of state intervention and highlights how, rather than breaking with past tendencies, the Great Recession further accelerated the shift towards open-market industrial policy.

Keywords: comparative capitalism; European integration; Germany; industrial policy; national development banks; Deutschland; europäische Integration; Industriepolitik; staatliche Entwicklungsbanken; vergleichende Kapitalismusforschung (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eec and nep-hme
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