Workshop on industrial strategy and competition policy with the OECD in Paris

Together with the OECD, the "Repair and Prepare" project organised a workshop on industrial strategy and competition policy that took place in Paris on October 16.

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Transformative processes such as digitisation and climate change, but also an increasingly challenging international environment have given new impetus to the question of (new) approaches to industrial policy. The event was opened by a keynote lecture by professor Philippe Aghion (London School of Economics and Political Science). In his presentation, Aghion first addressed the currently much debated question of how industrial policy can be rethought or improved – especially in relation to competition policy.  

The following panel discussion included contributions by Philipp Steinberg (Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy), Lars Sørgard (Norwegian Competition Commission), Grace Carey (Department for Economics, Energy and Industrial Strategy, United Kingdom) and Anita Silanterä (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland). The experts presented the current approaches to industrial strategy of individual countries and also discussed the relationship between industrial strategy and competition policy as well as innovation policy.

The experts stressed that the effectiveness of industrial policy depends on the existence of fair competition and a healthy competitive environment. A good competition policy, together with other horizontal elements (e.g. R&D or tax policy), constitutes the "framework”. The discussion underlined that the focus should be on such horizontal measures as much as possible. If nonetheless a vertical approach is required for specific sectors, it is necessary to ensure that incentives are created for all companies in the sectors concerned; favouring individual market participants or pre-selecting "winners" should be avoided.

The second part of the workshop illustrated recent discussions on mission-oriented industrial policy. Whether at the level of the European Union, Germany, France, the Netherlands or the United Kingdom, industrial policy today is formulated through the lens of certain thematic challenges - mission-oriented policies that often transcend the boundaries of individual industrial sectors. The presentations and discussions showed that these initiatives are launched in a competitive process and that new entrants should be given the same leeway as established entrants, which in turn reflects the desire for healthy competition.