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Giovanni Esposito, Julia Doleschel, Tobias Kaloud and Jadwiga Urban-Kozlowska

This chapter focuses on the transformations of the European rail sector over the last decades and is organized in two parts. First, it describes the change by providing a historical overview of the reform context, referring to the main aspects of the organizational change experienced by the European rail industries. Second, it assesses the change by empirically investigating the way regulatory innovations have influenced prices, investments and quality of European rail services between 1996 and 2013. On the one hand, it shows that, despite the formal improvement of market access regulation, in several European countries reforms have achieved mixed results and state-controlled structures still play a crucial role in the organization and management of rail industries. On the other, our empirical outcomes show that unlike reformers’ taken-for-granted beliefs on this topic, there is no clear evidence that liberalization reforms are correlated with lower prices for rail service users.

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Ajla Cosic, Lea Diestelmeier, Alexandru Maxim, Tue Anh Nguyen and Nicolò Rossetto

Over the last three decades, in order to solve issues related to economic efficiency and under-investment, many European countries have opted for the liberalization of the electricity sector. This was generally coupled with a progressive breakup and privatization of vertically integrated national monopolies. This chapter seeks to assess whether these reforms have generated welfare benefits for household consumers within the European Union. After reviews of national reforms, we investigate the relationship between public ownership of electricity companies and measurements of affordability and reliability of service. The pattern of these measurements through time is analysed across four countries: France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, all of which have pursued different pathways in restructuring their electricity sectors. Our study shows that privatisation and liberalisation have not had a consistently positive impact on household customers. Even though the data suggest that consumer welfare may have improved in the beginning of the millennium, subsequent developments cast doubts that ownership transfers from public to private entities are causally linked to such improvements.

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Massimo Florio

Some regulatory reforms cannot be simply described by the change of a microeconomic signal, or macroeconomic instrument, leading to a specific marginal effect on social welfare. Rather, they should be represented by packages shifting a policy framework. The aim of this chapter is to discuss the theoretical foundations of the evaluation of policy framework reforms in network industries. Some potential interpretational pitfalls are identified and some guidance on carrying out econometric analyses is provided. Since the use of categorical variables has become widespread in the empirical evaluation of such reforms, methodological issues and conceptual errors that might be introduced when building numerical proxies of reforms are discussed. Some of these issues are key for the correct assessment of reforms and hence for formulating coherent policy recommendations.

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Roberto Cardinale

This chapter analyses how the transition from state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to mixed-owned enterprises (MOEs) in the European gas sector affected the European states’ ability to pursue public policy objectives. More specifically, the analysis focuses on the extent to which public and private interests can be reconciled within MOEs’ strategy. The chapter suggests that the rise of profitability as the central objective for MOEs has prevented states from pursuing some, though not all, of the policy objectives that they could pursue before the transition. For example, states can no longer pursue large-scale plans of economic and technological development through MOEs, or ensure consumers’ price affordability irrespective of market fluctuations. However, states may still be able to positively contribute to energy security thanks to the major shares held in MOEs, for instance by vetoing divestment from import infrastructure. The analysis suggests the need for states to devise alternative ways to pursue their objectives in the framework of national and European energy policy.

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Annalisa Negrelli, Anastasia Roukouni and Angélique Chassy

In many EU countries, notwithstanding the privatisation policies, a large part of the supply of Local Public Transport (LPT) services is delivered by State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs); only a minority is covered by private operators or by mixed forms of public-private ones. There is a noteworthy variety in the LPT services organization among countries. Considerable differences are met even among cities within the same country. In this perspective, the quality of institutions is a factor that could assume a relevant impact on the internal policies and so, it could explain the differences in selecting among public, private or mixed private-public operators. In this context, the objective of the research is to critically examine how the main policy reforms – promoted by the EU and adopted by the Member States in the last two decades – have affected and continue to affect the market of public transport services. Starting from an empirical survey on the different experiences of the EU countries, the aim of the chapter is to investigate the theoretical inference of the collected data, analysing main juridical and socio-economic issues. What is the degree of market opening in the sector of LPT in some main European cities/municipalities? Which are the most efficient and progressive examples? Considering the degree of market opening, how could the juridical instruments adopted in the EU be a tool to compel the internal markets not open to competition? In other words, could the EU policies be a sort of ‘fly-wheel’, due to induce a virtuous circle that also entails single internal markets?

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Steve Thomas and Stefano Clò

This chapter analyzes how the European energy industry has been reformed in the last decades. We describe the structure of the industry prior to and after its reform; the nature of the four businesses; the progress in creating a competitive generation and retail markets; the change in ownership and corporate governance of the incumbent companies; and how they have responded to market reforms. We finally discuss the impact of these reforms on market performance, prices and social well-being in general.

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Torben Holvad

Over the past 25 years railways in Europe have experienced substantial changes in terms of legislative measures to strengthen the competitiveness of the sector. This chapter provides an overview of the different reform measures and the outcomes to date with particular emphasis on the issues linked to passenger transportation. In particular, the chapter is structured as follows. Firstly, the background to the reform initiatives is outlined. Secondly, the specific reform elements are described. Thirdly, the implementation of the reform measures at the country level is examined in order to identify variation between EU Member States. Subsequently, the outcomes are examined in terms of market structure, competition and state involvement as well as how the reforms have impacted the overall performance of the railway sector. Finally, the chapter puts forward future perspectives in terms of how the railways in Europe will develop over the coming years.

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Philippe Bance

The opening up to competition promoted by the European Union and the decrease of the traditional mail activity have brought profound changes in the postal sector. The purpose of this chapter is to analyse, within this new environment, the transformation of operators’ ownership and behaviour and also of the public service obligation assigned to operators by national authorities. In this sector comprises a great diversity of strategies and a variety of conceptions on the part of national public authorities, characterising the coexistence in Europe of multiple models.

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Paolo Castelnovo

This chapter provides an overview of the major State-invested enterprises (SIEs) operating in the European telecommunications industry; it describes their features and empirically investigates the potential differences in performance compared to private enterprises. Balance sheet and ownership data from 2006–14 are extracted from the Orbis Database. Descriptive statistics reveal that modern SIEs are not significantly different in size from private companies but have achieved a significantly higher profitability. This finding is confirmed by an econometric analysis accounting for firm- and country-level characteristics, regulatory constraints in the telecommunication industry and time fixed-effects. Regression results show that, even when controlling for the full set of covariates, SIEs display higher margins than their private counterparts. Additional relevant determinants of firms’ profitability are the probability of being listed on the stock exchange and market regulation, described by the ETCR aggregate indicator for the telecom sector.

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Edited by Massimo Florio