Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate to the French presidency for the right-wing party has recently delivered a speech on the topic of globalization. Sarkozy, often seen as a market-friendly politician, is surprisingly versing into old protectionist ideas. In a speech delivered a few days ago, he advocates - amongst other things - reestablishing a form of commercial "preference" to domestic (including european) market players.
Besides this, I was quite disappointed to read that Sarkozy includes EC competition policy in his hotch-potch criticism. I quote:
"Ce qui n'est plus possible, c’est une politique de la concurrence qui fait obstacle à toute politique industrielle"
"It is not longer possible to have a competition policy that runs against industrial policy".
Stigmatizing EC competition policy as a direct opponent of industrial policy is a
populist popular argument, which is not supported by a factual assessment (see here for a paper by Damien and I on the issue). In addition, industrial policy is an empty-shell concept. There are dozens of dimensions to industrial policy (innovation, R&D, infrastructures, etc.), and dozens of means to achieve it more efficiently than sheltering industrial sectors from competition enforcement (tax law, administrative law, IP law, etc.). And it is unclear what Sarkozy has in mind in terms of industrial policy. As a starter, I would thus suggest to Mr. Sarkozy's advisors to explicit the concept. My take as to what he alludes to: public rescue of the so-called "domestic industrial jewels" (read - most of the time - old and failing operators) and proactive state support/building of "industrial champions". Or the good old times of Colbertism...
Nota: In the coming months, I will chase what the candidates to the presidency have to say about competition policy (supposing optimistically that they have sthing to say about it...).