1887

OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

Promoting Competition to Strengthen Economic Growth in Belgium

Prices for many goods and services in Belgium are higher than in other countries, reflecting generally weak competitive pressures. The government has recently introduced several reforms to strengthen the competition policy framework. Nevertheless, to reap the full benefits of competitive markets, past reforms should be complemented with a number of further measures. The powers of the Competition Authority can still be enhanced. Its effective degree of independence, substantially improved in the recent reform, and its accountability should be monitored in order to assess whether further measures in this direction are needed. In the retail sector competition-restricting regulations still protect existing companies against new entry and inhibit the diffusion of new business models and technologies. The reform efforts in the network sectors remain patchy. In the energy and telecommunication sectors the main issues are the dominant positions of the incumbents and the failure of network sector regulators to introduce a level playing field in order to allow new entry and expansion of competitors. In other sectors, such as postal services and rail transport, major steps towards liberalisation are still to come. Overall, sectoral regulators will need more independence and powers in order to tackle uncompetitive behaviour of the incumbents, while better communication between the regulatory authorities is necessary. These steps should help to secure the necessary basis for bringing productivity growth in line with best performance.

English

Keywords: competition, network industries, retail distribution, economic growth, competition policy, Belgium, sectoral regulators
JEL: L43: Industrial Organization / Antitrust Issues and Policies / Legal Monopolies and Regulation or Deregulation; L41: Industrial Organization / Antitrust Issues and Policies / Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices; L50: Industrial Organization / Regulation and Industrial Policy / Regulation and Industrial Policy: General; K23: Law and Economics / Regulation and Business Law / Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
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