Toward a Real Green Transition? Triple Constraints Holding Back EU Member States’ “Greening” Industrial Strategies

Zhen Jie Im, Caroline de la Porte, Elke Heins, Andrea Prontera, Dorota Szelewa

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37% of the post-pandemic NextGenerationEU (NGEU) is earmarked for projects that tackle climate change. Thus, the NGEU is an opportunity for EU Member States to achieve the EU’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Yet, it remains uncertain whether Member States would devote much of this funding to contentious but net zero–critical decarbonization reforms to carbon-polluting industries, or they would allocate more to popular and uncontentious reforms like improving energy efficiency. We develop a conceptual framework that elaborates the conditions under which Member States will adopt industrial decarbonization—reforms that present substantial political risks to governments. These conditions are countries’ macroeconomic vulnerability, reliance on carbon-polluting industries, and social policy institutions’ readiness to help displaced workers adapt to the demands of the green economy. We test this framework first with comparative data and then four case studies to show the necessity of these conditions for Member States to pursue such reforms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Social Policy and the COVID-19 Pandemic : Challenges to National Welfare and EU Policy
EditorsStefanie Börner, Martin Seeleib-Kaiser
Number of pages31
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9780197676189
ISBN (Electronic)9780197676219
Publication statusPublished - 2023
SeriesInternational Policy Exchange


  • Decarbonization
  • Climate change
  • Environment
  • Social policy
  • Social investment
  • Welfare state
  • Comparative political economy
  • European Union
  • NextGenerationEU
  • Postindustrialization

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