The Liberalization of Infrastructure
Elgar original reference
Edited by Matthias Finger and Rolf W. Künneke
Matthias Finger and Rolf Künneke LIBERALIZATION OF INFRASTRUCTURES Infrastructures have been significantly restructured during the past three decades. Formerly these sectors have been perceived as utilities that received special governmental supervision and support in order to provide essential services to society under politically acceptable conditions. Public ownership and regulated monopolies have been very common in order to guarantee adequate service levels and pricing schemes under close political supervision. Nowadays, infrastructures are increasingly positioned as commercial economic sectors that need to efficiently satisfy customers’ needs and expectations. Accordingly, competition is introduced, private interests are accentuated for instance by private ownership and the roles and responsibilities of governments are redefined. This liberalization1 defines a fundamental change in the governance of infrastructures with significant consequences for their operations and performance, something that is amply demonstrated throughout this book. The importance of this phenomenon is emphasized by the fact that liberalization occurred in all infrastructure sectors in one way or another and in almost all countries in the world, as illustrated in Table 1.1. Apparently liberalization is under way even under very different technological conditions of the sectors involved, different socio-political preferences and needs, and different political ideologies. The scope and magnitude of the liberalization of infrastructures is even more remarkable if we consider that these sectors are of fundamental importance for the socio-economic development of countries. Typically, infrastructures provide services in the fields of energy (electricity, gas, oil), communication (telephony, Internet, postal services), transportation (aviation, railways, maritime transport, public transportation, roads), as...