Explaining Public Enterprise Privatization in the EU: A European or British Policy? (La Privatización de Empresas Públicas en la UE: ¿La Vía Británica o la Senda Europea?) (Spanish)
Review of World Economy - Revista de Economia Mundial, Vol. 15, pp. 121-153, 2006
34 Pages Posted: 22 May 2010
Date Written: October 1, 2006
This article seeks to identify the reasons behind the privatization programmes undertaken by governments of the European Union (EU), particularly, the EU 15. The privatization of public enterprises was one of the most important economic and political reforms since the 1970s. This activity has attracted the attention of scholars and there now exists an ample bibliography on the topic. Despite this, there remains a lack of consensus on the reasons why governments implemented privatization programmes at similar times in various countries. Three dominant explanatory models on EU privatization are offered in the literature. Firstly, the "British paradigm," which assumes the ideological belief in market forces and private business played an essential role in the path towards a global path inspired by the British experience. Secondly, a "multiple choice" approach, which claims that the UK was an anomaly, not a model for emulation, since EU privatization was diverse, revealing few, if any, common logics. Thirdly, a "European paradigm," which situations EU privatization in the context of economic and political integration, and highlights the importance of the European Commission directives when explaining the development of privatization in the region. This article aims to evaluate these three explanatory models using comparative empirical data on EU privatization by sector and country. It is found that integration requirements, particularly in telecommunications, transport, and other public service networks, played a critical role in the motivation of governments to privatise. Europe thus matters when explaining privatization in the region.
Keywords: Privatization, European Union, Liberalization, Directives, Integration
JEL Classification: L33, L32, F15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation