New Horizons in Law and Economics series
Edited by Alain Marciano and Jean-Michel Josselin
Chapter 5: European Union and public utility: a virtuous grouping? Lessons from the reorganization of Corsican external transport
Thierry Garcia and Xavier Peraldi The structure of the European Union is often perceived as one that questions the principle of public utility, at least in the way it is traditionally viewed in France, where the phrase ‘French public utility’ (Valette, 2000) has a recognized, different meaning. In its public report of 1994, the Council of State stressed that ‘Europe does not institute proceedings against public utility: it does worse; it obfuscates the concepts of public utility and the existence of the public utilities’. The fears expressed by the Council of State were founded on conflicting differences in the French and European approaches toward public utility. The two approaches seem to be basically opposed to each other concerning their priorities in criteria for fairness and efficiency in how the missions of public utility are determined. This resulting antagonism affects not only the objectives of public utility, but also the practical methods of achieving them. In spite of these obvious differences, an analysis of the French and European approaches toward public utility in the transport sector seems likely to correct this perception of conflict. In fact, by observing the way in which the two approaches have developed during recent years it is possible to detect a marked convergence in their approaches. This chapter supports an attenuation of the disparities of the two approaches toward equity and efficiency, and proposes appropriate action that can be taken by authorities and the public. Such action would not be uniform, as it would be subject...
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