IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Privatization, unbundling, and liberalization of network industries:a discussion of the dominant policy paradigm in the EU


  • Lidia CERIANI


  • Raffaele DORONZO


  • Massimo FLORIO



In this paper we examine the emergence over the last two decades in the EU of a dominant policy paradigm on the reform of network industries. We consider the broad recommendations by the OECD and the European Commission, and the Directives adopted by the European Union on the reform of some public services, such as electricity, gas, and telecom. These recommendations, in their strongest form, advocate the divestiture of public ownership (openly by the OECD, but not by the EC), unbundling (by both organizations, but with differences across sectors), liberalization (again by both organization, but with variations in the role of market regulation). We contrast the predictions and prescriptions of the paradigm, with a theoretical discussion of the welfare impact of the reforms. This discussion, based on a review of some standard microeconomic assumptions on the role of ownership, economies of scale and scope, governance, and market forms, shows that the dominant policy paradigm oversimplifies a very complex story. We suggest that the actual success of the reform is conditional to a large number of economic and institutional factors, and that it is far from obvious that the adoption of the same policy pattern in any and all the EU countries is always welfare improving. Empirical analysis does not support the paradigm.

Suggested Citation

  • Lidia CERIANI & Raffaele DORONZO & Massimo FLORIO, 2009. "Privatization, unbundling, and liberalization of network industries:a discussion of the dominant policy paradigm in the EU," Departmental Working Papers 2009-09, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2009-09

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Johan Willner & David Parker, 2007. "The Performance of Public and Private Enterprise under Conditions of Active and Passive Ownership and Competition and Monopoly," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 90(3), pages 221-253, April.
    2. Ambra Poggi & Massimo Florio, 2007. "Utilities deprivation dynamics and energy sector reforms in Europe," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 60, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Judith Clifton & Daniel Díaz‐Fuentes & Marcos Fernández‐Gutiérrez & Julio Revuelta, 2011. "Is Market‐Oriented Reform Producing A ‘Two‐Track’ Europe? Evidence From Electricity And Telecommunications," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 82(4), pages 495-513, December.
    2. Mildred E. Warner, 2012. "Does Local Government Size Matter? Privatization and Hybrid Systems of Local Service Delivery," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1212, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    3. Andrea ZATTI, 2012. "New Organizational Models In European Local Public Transport: From Myth To Reality," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 83(4), pages 533-559, December.
    4. Andrea ZATTI, 2011. "Organizational models in European local public transport: is the new paradigm really dominant," Departmental Working Papers 2011-29, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    5. Mildred E. Warner, 2013. "Does local government size matter? Privatization and hybrid systems of local service delivery," Chapters,in: The Challenge of Local Government Size, chapter 11, pages 263-288 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Santiago Lago-Peñas & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez (ed.), 2013. "The Challenge of Local Government Size," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15294.

    More about this item


    Privatization; unbundling; liberalization; network industries;

    JEL classification:

    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L32 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Enterprises; Public-Private Enterprises
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2009-09. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (DEMM Working Papers). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.