1887

Enhancing competitiveness, purchasing power and employment by increasing competition

Over the past decade, France has substantially eased the burden of anti-competitive regulations and effectively enforced competition law against anti-competitive practices. Various sectors have been opened up more widely to competition, and the powers of the Competition Authority have been strengthened. However, reducing burdens on French businesses would increase competitive pressures in many sectors. In particular, the administrative procedures involved in starting a business remain lengthy, and the number of regulations and rules is substantial, while their potential impact on competition is not fully taken into account when they are drawn up and implemented. The complexity of the tax system also tends to penalise the youngest and smallest businesses. Recent streamlining initiatives are welcome but remain limited. Meanwhile, the territorial fragmentation of public procurement procedures, which could decline following ongoing reforms, impairs their efficiency, and entry and operating requirements appear to go beyond consumer protection in several regulated professions, such as legal services and health care. In the retail sector, recent reforms have significantly relaxed negotiating conditions between suppliers and retailers, and Sunday trading is intended to be partly liberalised. However, the ban on resale below cost has not been challenged, nor the tight rules controlling commercial zoning. Individual shops that contract with superstore chains cannot change chain easily. Of the network industries, it is in the telecommunications sector that competition has made the most progress, and there is room for further improvements in transport and energy.

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