Are industrial policies possible within the European Union? The case of Spain in the automobile sector (1986-2012)

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2012)


politique industrielle


The request for an active intervention of the State in industrial sectors has become a recurrent feature of socio-economic actors during times of economic crisis. If such policies were clearly used in the NIC’s in the 1980s and 1990s, the BRICs followed a similar path strategy of attracting FDI in order to become industrial countries. When looking at the European Union, it is often argued, that the pooling of sovereignty since at least the Single European Act made very difficult for member states to develop such active policies typical of the state-enhanced model of capitalism. Departing from a critical analysis of the varieties of capitalism debate applied to the Spanish case, this paper aims to explore in which way European integration has transformed the capacity of the European nation-state to develop a successful industrial policy. To such purpose, it will analyse one of the main industries which have flourished in Spain since its accession to the EU in 1986: the automotive industry. The paper will use as starting hypothesis the existence of a European government of industrial affairs which may be fragmented and incomplete, but still coherent with the political conditions required by its dominant institutional order. The trajectory of automobile policies will be integrated within this framework in order to find out whether it is typical of the industrial policies derived from the Spanish type of capitalism.

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Concéption Tommaso Pardi
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