Paradigm shift in EU industrial policy

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Since the mid-2010s onwards, policy changes in the field of state aid, antitrust and foreign subsidies have been implemented, signaling a shift away from the fierce competition stance towards using EU competition control as part of a more active EU industrial policy, in the form of actively protecting and promoting European industries against foreign competitors. Adopting a historical institutionalist perspective based on the Gradual Change Framework (GCF), this paper sought to explain which endogenous and exogenous factors contributed to the paradigm shift in EU industrial policy. Process-tracing and semi-structured interviews have helped to reveal the importance of endogenous processes within the institution (changed German standpoints), as well as exogenous processes (the economic rise of China) in explaining institutional change which led to a paradigm shift in EU industrial policy. Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic shows the importance of critical junctures, which speeded up the need to address foreign subsidies among Member States. This thesis contributes to the ongoing academic discussion by elucidating the origins and causes of the ongoing paradigm shift towards an EU industrial policy based on the concepts of ‘strategic autonomy’ and ‘technological sovereignty’. While this state-interventionist EU industrial policy certainly has disadvantages, it will become clear whether or not the European Commission has achieved their goal of creating prominent ‘Euro champions’ in the near future.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen