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Higher Seminar in Statecraft and Strategic Communication | Mara Bălașa

Industrial Policy from Gray to Green: Strategic State Capacity and Steel Production in Romania

Abstract: The clean energy transition brought back industrial policy. However, there is little consensus on how to implement it, at what level, be it national or supranational, or what tools to use. Clarity is also limited around the magnitude of the green transition costs and the role of state capacity, especially in an Eastern European setting. The present thesis alleviates this by studying the aims of contemporary industrial policy, strategies employed by Romania to overcome climate policy opposition, and costs associated with the decarbonisation of steelmaking.

The first paper provides a general discussion on industrial policy, discusses states’ concurrent objectives of securing geopolitical gains and tackling climate change, and makes historical comparisons to earlier instances of industrial policy. Thus, it contributes conceptually through mapping the interaction between geopolitics, geoeconomics and industrial policy.

The second article analyses strategic state capacity using Romania as a case study. Since this theory is originally derived from Western cases, the aim is to expand it based on Eastern European particularities and contribute with empirical findings. Furthermore, the third paper focuses on electricity prices and their determinants in Romania, while also discussing statecraft and its role in the evolution of the prices. In the final study, costs associated with the decarbonisation of a large steelmaker in Romania are analysed. A novel dataset drives the literature discussion from hypothetical scenarios to a real-world case, thus informing policymakers of the extent of support that could be needed by the steel industry.

Bio: Mara Balasa is a PhD Fellow at the Center for Statecraft and Strategic Communication. With a background in economics and political science (BSc University of Warwick), as well as in economics and data analysis (MSc Stockholm School of Economics), she is currently researching the green transition with a focus on industrial policy. During her master’s degree, she was the recipient of the UniCredit Foundation Masterscholarship for top students. Previously, Mara was a market operations analyst at the European Central Bank and a research executive in public affairs in Brussels, focusing on energy and transport. She has also briefly worked in public administration at the Ministry of Economy in Romania, at the Permanent Representation of Romania to the European Union, and as a short term consultant for the World Bank.

CSSC Research seminar