Product Market Competition and Economic Performance in France
Over the past decade, French economic growth has been insufficient to bring down high and persistent unemployment. Available cross-country evidence suggests that enhancing competition is an important means to improve economic performance. France is catching up with best practice in competition policy reform. However, other policy considerations often hamper the emergence of effective competition. Relatively weak competitive pressures remain in a number of sectors, particularly in sheltered service industries. Restrictions on competition reduce productivity growth and hinder job creation in regulated sectors. Policy must focus on giving more weight to overall consumer welfare in the face of opposition from relatively small but vocal special interest groups. This paper discusses reforms that would increase competition by: i) strengthening institutions and better clarifying their responsibilities with respect to competition enforcement; ii) reinforcing the ability of sector regulators to improve non-discriminatory third-party access and other aspects of competition in the network industries; iii) abolishing overly prescriptive regulation in the retail sector; and iv) removing unnecessary protection in some professional services. This Working Paper relates to the 2005 OECD Economic Survey of France (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/france).
network industries, France, regulatory reforms, competition law, productivity and growth, retail sector, product market competition
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