The Bed You Made: Social Democracy and Industrial Policy in the EU

  • Angela WiggerEmail author
  • Laura Horn
Part of the Building a Sustainable Political Economy: SPERI Research & Policy book series (SPERIRP)


This chapter engages critically with the EU’s new common industrial policy initiative and its broader framing within social democratic visions of Europe, and argues that with the particular direction that the new common EU industrial policy is taking, social democracy in the EU, once more, is failing to steer the EU towards a more radical social agenda and to capitalise politically on the ‘deep reforms’ that have recently been announced. The prevailing political project of competitiveness through internal devaluation exacerbates existing structural asymmetries and economic disintegration. As a result, assumptions about a rekindling of ‘social democratic Europe’ through an industrial policy flanked by the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) initiative remain fundamentally flawed.


  1. Almunia, J. (2012a). The Role of Competition Policy in Times of Crisis. Speech 12/917. Brussels.Google Scholar
  2. Almunia, J. (2012b). Policy Competition Policy for Innovation and Growth: Keeping Markets Open and Efficient. Speech 12/172. Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  3. Almunia, J. (2014). Competition Policy Enforcement as a Driver for Growth. Speech 14/178. Brussels.Google Scholar
  4. Bailey, D. (2016, March 1). The End of the European Left? Social Democracy, Hope, Disillusion, and Europe. Near Futures Online.Google Scholar
  5. Bailey, D., De Waele, J. M., Escalona, F., & Viera, M. (Eds.). (2014). European Social Democracy During the Global Economic Crisis: Renovation or Resignation? Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  6. BDI. (2014). A Call from BDI and Confindustria to the German and Italian Government Ahead of the Spring European Council. Joint Declaration with Confindustria. Available at: Accessed April 22, 2017.
  7. Beres, P. (2017). Open Letter. Available at:
  8. Besch, S. (2018, February 9). PESCO Unlikely to Deliver Much in the Short Term. The Progressive Post. Available at:
  9. Blanchard, O., & Leigh, D. (2013). Growth Forecast Errors and Fiscal Multipliers (IMF Working Paper, WP/13/1), pp. 1–43.Google Scholar
  10. BusinessEurope. (2016, August 24). European Pillar of Social Rights—BusinessEurope Contribution to the Debate. Available at:
  11. BusinessEurope. (2017). European Pillar of Social Rights—Right Aims, Wrong Approach. Available at:
  12. Council of the European Union. (2016). Recommendation for a Council Recommendation on the Establishment of National Productivity Boards, ECOFIN 590, UEM 248, Brussels.Google Scholar
  13. Dannreuther, C. (2014). The European Social Model After the Crisis: The End of a Functionalist Fantasy? Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 22(3), 329–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dijsselbloem, J. (2017a). Remarks Following the Eurogroup Meeting of 20 February 2017. Press Release 77/17. Brussels.Google Scholar
  15. Dijsselbloem, J. (2017b). Speech by the President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, at the Future of Europe Event, 24 January 2017. Brussels.Google Scholar
  16. ECB. (2013, June). Competitiveness Research Network First Year Results, European Central Bank. Available at:
  17. ERT. (2012). ERT’s Priorities for an Integrated Industrial Policy. Brussels: ERT.Google Scholar
  18. ERT. (2013, March 18). ERT Meets with Merkel, Hollande and Barroso on Europe’s Competitiveness. Press Release. Brussels: ERT.Google Scholar
  19. ERT. (2014). EU Industrial Renaissance: ERT Agenda for Action. Brussels: ERT.Google Scholar
  20. ETUC. (2015). ETUC Position on National Competitiveness Boards. Available at: Accessed April 22, 2017.
  21. ETUI. (2014). Benchmarking Working Europe 2014. Brussels: ETUI.Google Scholar
  22. EUObserver. (2017, January 20). New EU Parliament Coalitions Get in Shape. Available at:
  23. EuroMemorandum. (2013). The Deepening Crisis in the European Union: The Need for a Fundamental Change. Available at: Accessed April 20, 2017.
  24. EuroMemorandum. (2017). The European Union: The Threat of Disintegration. Available at:
  25. European Commission. (2011). The Effects of Temporary State Aid Rules Adopted in the Context of the Financial and Economic Crisis (Commission Staff Working Paper). Brussels.Google Scholar
  26. European Commission. (2013). Towards a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union: The Introduction of a Convergence and Competitiveness Instrument. COM(2013) 165 Final, Brussels.Google Scholar
  27. European Commission. (2014). For a European Industrial Renaissance. Communication, Brussels.Google Scholar
  28. European Commission. (2015). EU Structural Change 2015. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  29. European Commission. (2016a). Industrial Policy. Available at: Accessed April 20, 2017.
  30. European Commission. (2016b). EU Competition Policy in Action. Available at: Accessed April 20, 2017.
  31. European Commission. (2017a). State of the Union 2017—Industrial Policy Strategy: Investing in a Smart, Innovative and Sustainable Industry. Available at:
  32. European Commission. (2017b). Establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights. COM(2017) 250 Final, Brussels.Google Scholar
  33. European Commission. (2017c). The European Defence Fund: Questions and Answers. Available at:
  34. European Commission. (2018). European Defence Industrial Policy. Available at:
  35. European Council. (2013). Conclusions. EUCO 217/13. Brussels.Google Scholar
  36. Eurostat. (2017). International Trade. Available at: Accessed April 21, 2017.
  37. Five President’s Report. (2015). Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union. Available at: Accessed October 25, 2018.
  38. Four Presidents’ Report. (2012). Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union. Available at: Accessed April 22, 2017.
  39. Heinrich, M. (2015). EU Governance in Crisis: A Cultural Political Economy Perspective on European Crisis Management 2007–2014. Comparative European Politics, 13(6), 682–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Holmes, M., & Lightfoot, S. (2014). Limits of Consensus? The Party of European Socialists and the Financial Crisis. In D. Bailey, et al. (Eds.), European Social Democracy During the Global Economic Crisis. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Merkel, A. (2013, January 24). Speech at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Available at: Accessed April 20, 2017.
  42. Miró Artigas, J. (2017). European Integration, Social Democratic Europeanism and the Competitiveness Discourse: A Neo-Poulantzian Approach to Discursive Policy Analysis. Palgrave Communications, 3, 17060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nölke, A. (2017). Financialisation as the Core Problem for a “Social Europe”. Revista de Economia Mundial, 46(2), 27–48.Google Scholar
  44. Parker, O., & Pye, R. (2017). Mobilising Social Rights in EU Economic Governance: A Pragmatic Challenge to Neoliberal Europe. Comparative European Politics, 16(5), 805–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pauly, M. (2018, January 26). European Social Democracy Extinct? Social Europe Blog. Available at:
  46. PES. (2014, March 31). Towards a New Europe: The Manifesto of the Party of European Socialists. Brussels.Google Scholar
  47. Pochet, P. (2017, November 16). The European Pillar of Social Rights in Historical Perspective. ETUI blog. Available at:
  48. Rasnača & Jagodziński. (2017, October 12). Giving Juncker’s Proposed European Labour Authority Real Clout. ETUI blog. Available at:
  49. Ryner, M. (2014). Why Has the Financial Crisis Not Generated a Social Democratic Alternative in Europe? In D. Bailey, et al. (Eds.), European Social Democracy During the Global Economic Crisis: Renovation or Resignation? Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Sablowski, T. (2012, May 16). The Global Economic Crisis: Impoverishing Europe. Global Research.Google Scholar
  51. Seikel, D. (2017). The European Pillar of Social Rights. An Analysis. Policy Brief WSI/Institute of Economic and Social Research, 17(11), 1–19.Google Scholar
  52. S&D Group. (2008). Competition Policy, European and State Aid. Brussels: Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.Google Scholar
  53. S&D Group. (2010). European Competition Policy. For Social Cohesion, Quality of Life and an Efficient and Dynamic Economy. Brussels: Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.Google Scholar
  54. S&D. (2017, September 26). Security and Defence: Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Security and Defence. Position Paper. Available at:
  55. S&D. (2018). Industry, Research and Energy. Available at:
  56. Stockhammer, E., & Onaran, O. (2012). Rethinking Wage Policy in the Face of the Euro Crisis: Implications of the Wage-Led Demand Regime. International Review of Applied Economics, 26(2), 191–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wigger, A., & Buch-Hansen, H. (2014). Explaining (Missing) Regulatory Paradigm Shifts: EU Competition Regulation in Times of Economic Crisis. New Political Economy, 19(1), 113–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wigger, A., & Horn, L. (2014). Uneven Development and Political Resistance Against EU Austerity Politics. In L. Pradella & T. Marois (Eds.), Polarizing Development: Alternatives to Neoliberalism and the Crisis. London: Pluto.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Radboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Roskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark

Personalised recommendations