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STUDY Abstract Following disregard in the 1980s, industrial policy has recently attracted policy attention at EU level. The objective of this study provided by Policy Department A at the request of the ITRE Committee, is to establish the state of the art of a coordinated and integrated EU industrial policy. It assesses current initiatives, policies and arrangements and proposes an overview of stakeholders’ positions at EU and national levels in order to feed into the debate on how to improve competitiveness and growth in Europe.

IP/A/ITRE/2014-03 February 2015 PE 536.320 EN This document was requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Industry Research and Energy.


Julie Pellegrin, CSIL Centre for Industrial Studies (Italy) Maria Letizia Giorgetti, University of Milan (Italy) Camilla Jensen, CASE (Poland) Alberto Bolognini, Economisti Associati (Italy).


Frédéric Gouardères Policy Department A Economic and Scientific Policy European Parliament B-1047 Brussels E-mail: Poldep-Economy-Science@ep.europa.eu


Original: [EN]


To contact the Policy Department or to subscribe to its monthly newsletter please write to:

Poldep-Economy-Science@ep.europa.eu Manuscript completed in February 2015.

Brussels, © European Union, 2015

This document is available on the Internet at:



The opinions expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament.

Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the publisher is given prior notice and sent a copy.

Policy Department A: Economic and Scientific Policy









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This report provides an overview of the different initiatives and policies devised at EU level to foster competitiveness and growth, and their assessment by selected stakeholders and experts.

Key findings The report finds that there is renewed interest in industrial policy in general, and at EU level in particular, but there is not always a clear-cut and explicit idea of what purpose an EU industrial policy would serve. There are general references to objectives such as competitiveness, growth and jobs, but sometimes without explicit mention of possible tensions or overlaps between such objectives and how exactly an industrial policy can help to achieve these objectives.

Parallel to some uncertainty around the very notion of industrial policy – its definition, objectives and target, there are new developments suggesting alternative frameworks of analysis. Indeed, theoretical developments and recent practices point to new units of analysis and action frameworks for outlining an industrial policy, such as industrial systems, production chains, networks, global value chains, “eco-systems”, smart specialisation, etc.

They are all notions that offer an opportunity to overcome old dichotomies at the origin of seemingly irreducible and unproductive controversies characterising the debate between proponents of an industrial policy and critics. In particular, they question the validity of the opposition between horizontal and sectoral approaches to industrial policy, between topdown and bottom-up policy developments, and between industrial policy targeting manufacturing in the strict sense and industry at large.

In this context, new paradigms are proposed like the “new industrial policy”. In contrast to the “old” approach characterised by top-down initiatives pursuing clearly defined (sectoral) priorities, the new industrial policy is implemented through a process of trial and error, implying institutionalised dialogue between public authorities and private agents, pragmatic public–private partnerships, and the ability of policymakers to learn from mistakes (which in turn requires monitoring and evaluating). The capabilities of both policymakers and businesses acquire a special relevance in this context.

In concrete terms, significant resources are mobilised by policies and programmes contributing to an “EU industrial policy”, and the policy coverage is extremely wide. Some of the initiatives with a budget envelope are (in order of importance): Cohesion Policy, Horizon 2020, Connecting Europe Facility and COSME, representing slightly less than €200 billion. Two recurring priorities across these programmes are SMEs and innovation. In addition, the EU exercises regulatory power in a number of areas, which contributes to levelling the playing field and facilitating business in Europe: competition, internal market, business environment, intellectual property rights, trade and energy.

The stakeholders reviewed in this study generally call for better integration of initiatives and programmes in order to best exploit synergies. In particular, some suggest better aligning conceptual underpinnings and intervention logics at the basis of policy developments in some areas, including, for example, environmental policy and other initiatives aimed at fostering competitiveness. The majority of respondents believe that a proper mandate in the field of industrial policy should be more clearly defined at EU level.

Stakeholders appear to place quite distinct expectations on an EU industrial policy. Business associations acknowledge the fundamental role that the EU plays - and could further play – in terms of “levelling the playing field”. Another added value of EU action put forward by EU PE 536.320 7 EU Industrial Policy: Assessment of Recent Developments and Recommendations for Future Policies policy stakeholders is when the EU fulfils the role of knowledge-broker, or knowledge platform.

A review of practices and approaches in six Member States shows quite distinct positions.

Distinct socio-economic institutional features determine different growth paths, and contribute to shaping specific responses to varying types of challenges. This means that there are different incentives for Member States to take part in an active EU industrial policy. “Peripheral” Member States dependent on Cohesion Policy, for example, place high expectations on an EU industrial policy. The fact that these countries were hardest hit by the crisis and that they are experiencing relatively more rapid de-industrialisation calls for specific attention and possibly distinct approaches in their cases.

Recommendations The EU should fully endorse its role of knowledge-broker and facilitator of interaction in order to stress its added value. In particular, the promotion of pragmatic public-private partnerships could acquire greater and institutionalised importance. A possible model could be the existing Specialised Partnerships. Another area where the EU could improve current practices is in the field of monitoring and evaluation, for example on the basis of experience accumulated through the implementation of Cohesion Policy.

A proper governance setting should be in place at EU level. For instance, the most should be made of the newly established vice-presidency for “Jobs Growth Investment and Competitiveness” in order to ensure optimal coordination among the concerned DGs, building on synergies and complementarities between programmes and initiatives.

A Strategic Document could be adopted that would not be so much about what to do, but about how to do it. This Document could make explicit the mission of a facilitator endorsed by the EU, indicate clearly who’s in charge, spell out the adopted approach and method, clarify the preferred overarching strategic options, and delineate possible specific priorities or policy domains where appropriate actions should be decided at relevant levels of action (i.e. not in the Document itself). In this way, such a Document would propose a sound strategic and action framework as well as a menu of possible areas of initiatives or priorities, which would be picked up by relevant stakeholders at appropriate levels of action. The Document should take a clear position with respect to the very distinct national expectations placed on an EU industrial policy and the differentiated needs of Member States. It is also necessary for the Document to explain how the current policies, programmes, initiatives and arrangements at EU level articulate and form a coherent policy system contributing to the overarching objective. As to specific priorities, these could range from eco-innovation, to digital infrastructure, to SME support, to innovation financing, etc.

This Document would be the result of an intense consultation process bringing together different stakeholders, in particular Member States, business organisations, trade unions and other non-governmental organisations, at the EU level, but also from the national, regional, transnational, cross-regional and local levels. Such consultation should foster ownership around the strategy. It is conceivable that a process of ramification, comprising a series of related Documents deepening issues in some of the identified policy domains, could be adopted at relevant levels of action, following a variable geometry.

The European Parliament should validate the Main Document and scrutinise its implementation (which entails the formulation of a monitoring/evaluation process). The European Parliament should also be actively involved in monitoring the progress achieved through specific actions.

Without relinquishing their prerogatives, and while pursuing their own strategic lines, Member States should acknowledge the added value of the EU action thus defined in the

8 PE 536.320Policy Department A: Economic and Scientific Policy

area of industrial policy. They should endorse the EU mission, which they themselves contributed to forging and validating, indeed a necessary condition for an EU industrial policy to develop and be successful. They should also throw their weight behind the recent investment plan decided at EU level to foster public and private investment.

PE 536.320 9 EU Industrial Policy: Assessment of Recent Developments and Recommendations for Future Policies

1. INTRODUCTION While in the 1990s European institutions were focusing mainly on the creation of a Single Market, the start of the Monetary Union and European enlargement, industrial policy has recently returned to the European vocabulary and has attracted the attention of governments. Interest in European industrial policy resurfaced at the turn of the century and played a specific role in the shaping of the Lisbon Strategy. However, a renewed strong appetite for industrial policy did not emerge until the effects of the credit crunch and the ensuing prolonged economic slowdown became manifest with dramatic consequences on the manufacturing industry in some EU countries. Nowadays, we observe a complete change of mood towards industrial policy intervention, as a result of a combination of factors such as: fear of rapid de-industrialisation following the crisis, limited European growth, new opportunities and constraints related to climate change, competition from emerging economies where significant planning is taking place, etc. Overall, great expectations are placed on industrial policy, which is seen as a central tool for promoting economic transformation and sometimes even as a way of helping Member States to recover from the global financial crisis.

Aware of the extent of the challenges faced by the European economy, the European Commission has taken a number of steps in the context of its 2020 strategy in order to promote an “industrial renaissance”. These include a “flagship” entirely dedicated to industrial policy (and three others closely related), and several Communications delineating an “Industrial Compact”. Not least, the objective was set for EU industry to represent 20% of EU GDP by 2020 and the new President of the European Commission announced an ambitious investment plan of more than €300 billion in 2015-2018.

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