Regulation of network industries in the European Union and in Central and Eastern Europe
Cost-based pricing has dominated the regulatory regime of network industries - and first of all, the regulation of the infocommunications sector - in the European Union since the early 1990s. When privatization of network industries began in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), one of the main stumbling blocks on the road toward privately owned telecomm companies and postal services, energy producers and distributors, and other network industries was the lack of efficient and up-to-date industry regulations. From the mid-1990s, accessing countries that later became members of the EU, and other CEE countries that are still waiting for admission swiftly adopted the regulatory framework of the European Union. The EU has been striving for market opening and liberalization in these industries; it abolished industry regulation in several segments of the market of network industries. Now it applies so-called cost-based pricing in areas where regulation is still in place. CEE countries now use the same type of regulation as the advanced member states of the EU. But the regulatory capacity of most CEE countries is still far behind of their West European counterparts. Experts of network industries advocate, and telecommunications, energy and other market regulators in various parts of the world practice, cost-based pricing for inter-firm network access services. Cost-based pricing is carried out under the assumption that the regulator has perfect information regarding the costs of producing the services. We show in this paper that - under fairly general conditions - cost-based pricing creates incentives for regulated firms not to improve their efficiency. We also show that cost-based pricing results in smaller consumer welfare than incentive regulation that takes into account the existence of information asymmetry between the regulator and the firm. A model of interconnection with adverse selection and moral hazard is presented.
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