Major reforms have been introduced into the regulatory governance system in France over the past 20 years. The role of the State in the economy has been reduced as the State has distanced itself from direct intervention, and State ownership of companies has declined significantly. The majority of product markets are now open to competition. The definition and management of public services have been adapted accordingly. Decentralisation has affected the apportionment of institutional responsibilities and powers between the State, regions, departments and communes. Public administrative law has evolved and now recognises, for example, the principles of competition as an important factor in State decision making. There has been significant progress in facilitating access to regulatory information, in particular through the use of new information technologies. Such progress has also been facilitated by a considerable effort of codification. Structural reforms have gone hand in hand with the opening up of the French economy to foreign trade.
However, after a period of relative success at the end of the 1990s, there has been a recent slowdown in growth. France, like other countries, faces the challenge of an ageing population. Although the reforms necessary to meet this challenge have begun to be implemented, further adjustments are needed to sustain the progress of the French economy and help strengthen its growth potential. This will require the government to set a clearer course with a more coherent strategic direction, co-ordinating its approaches to product and labour markets and the system of governance.
France, like other member countries, has undergone a broad review of its national regulatory practices and internal regulatory reforms. This review presents an in-depth evaluation, set within a macroeconomic context, of regulatory reform including government capacity to produce high quality regulations, competition policy and market openness. It also assesses progress in the civil aviation and telecommunications sectors.
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The background material used to prepare this report is available at: www.oecd.org/regreform/backgroundreports.