The Political Economy of Internal Devaluation in the EU: A Critical Assessment of the Role of EU Competition Policy in the new EU Industrial Policy
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Lecture Series European Competition Law, 6 juni 2019
European University Institute (EUI), Fiesole, Italy : [S.n.]
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SubjectInstitute for Management Research
In 2017, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker declared the reindustrialization of the European Union (EU) a top priority. The new EU industrial policy seeks to boost industrial competitiveness and leverage private investments into manufacturing, thereby increasing industry’s share of EU Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 20% by 2020. What may at first glance appear to be a Keynesian industrial policy and thus a move away from the EU’s previous neoliberal agenda, however, seeks to calibrate a further neoliberal structural adjustment in a highly authoritarian fashion. Internal devaluation through devaluing labour, intensifying competition through a strict enforcement of EU competition rules and reducing corporate taxes takes centre-stage. It will be shown that while wage repression, labour market reforms, and intense price competition directly and indirectly deflate the cost of labour, the reduction of corporate taxes also expedites a further redistribution of wealth from labour to capital. In her talk, Angela Wigger will outline the new EU industrial policy in general, and then focus on the wider internal devaluation strategy that is being adopted in response to the 2007/8 crisis, and the role of EU competition policy therein. Going back in time, and focusing on the evolution of EU competition rule enforcement, it will be shown moreover that EU competition policy has always been an industrial policy informed by the rhetoric of competitiveness. However, whereas during the first decades of European integration, competition rules were employed to curb competition, particularly during the crisis of the 1970s, today, intense competitition is being propagated to enhance industrial competitiveness. Dr. Angela Wigger is Associate Professor of Global Political Economy at Radboud University, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on capitalist crises, crises responses and political resistance. The EU's "competitiveness" fetish, debt and the (de)politicisation of the crisis constitutes a focal point. Angela is specialised in the political economy of EU competition and industrial policy, as well as debt-led accumulation structures from a historical materialist perspective. She has written "The Politics of European Competition Regulation. A Critical Political Economy Perspective" (with H. Buch-Hansen, 2011, Routledge/RIPE) and published widely in political economy journals.
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