Introducing Competition in the French Electricity Supply Industry: The Destabilisation of a Public Hierarchy in an Open Institutional Environment
The French electricity supply industry is characterized by a vertically integrated monopoly and public ownership and when the government introduced market rules, it was with the aim of preserving the integration of the public incumbent as a national champion. This had two paradoxical effects in favour of competition development and the building of safeguards for entrants: 1/ the creation of a credible regulatory governance structure with effective power of control on network access which promoted market-rules, and the creation of a power exchange for balancing the incumbent’s dominant position; 2/ the credibility of the regulatory framework by the self-control of the incumbent in the use of its dominant position and on the capture of the regulator. These two effects result from the influence of the European institutional environment, in particular the intensive scrutiny of the European Commission, which is superposed on the national one.
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