International Handbook of Network Industries
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International Handbook of Network Industries

The Liberalization of Infrastructure

Edited by Matthias Finger and Rolf W. Künneke

This extensive, state-of-the-art Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the various experiences of liberalization across different sectors, regions and disciplines.
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Chapter 20: Liberalization of Network Industries in the European Union: Evolving Policy Issues

Matthias Finger and Marc Laperrouza


1 Matthias Finger and Marc Laperrouza INTRODUCTION Europe has a long tradition of infrastructures, even though this tradition differs from country to country. What makes Europe particularly interesting is the process of liberalizing infrastructures which started around the 1980s. More than a process of economic liberalization, it is a process of integrating Europe politically. In fact, what makes the European experience unique worldwide is the fact that the liberalization of the infrastructures is conceived as, and becomes a means of, integrating Europe economically and politically, so as to reposition it globally. Thus, infrastructure liberalization must always be seen, in Europe, as part of broader policy objectives and problems, such as European social cohesion, European competitiveness, as well as the protection of the environment, among others. Consequently, the way the infrastructure sectors in Europe are liberalized evolves over time in light of new challenges that emerge – such as fiscal and environmental challenges or the integration of new member states – as well as in light of the problems that arise in the very process of infrastructure liberalization (Geradin, 2006). In this chapter, we focus on this last aspect, namely, on the evolution of Europe’s approach to infrastructure liberalization over time. There is a clear ‘old liberalization paradigm’ with which the European Commission started the very process of liberalization: its goal was the creation of markets in most network industries. Indeed, in many infrastructure sectors there were no markets at all. The entire value chain was monopolistic and in many countries the firms...

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