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Modern form of economic interventionism, societal concept or main instrument of state economic dirigisme? While doctrinal discussions are still going on about the meaning of a phenomenon that largely escapes the classical categories of law, it must be said that the development of regulatory mechanisms in areas previously excluded from any competitive approach is now a reality. This new vision does not, however, lead to a pure and simple abandonment of entire sectors to the play of market forces alone. The whole point of regulatory mechanisms is to provide, in the context of a competitive market, a satisfactory compromise between sometimes contradictory economic and non-economic objectives and values. This book is the result of the collective work of a group of teacher-researchers in legal and economic sciences, brought together under the aegis of Professor Claude Champaud. Its aim is to draw up an initial assessment of the functioning of certain regulatory systems in very different sectors.
The analysis is based on a multidisciplinary approach. Four areas have been selected. While each of them contains the requirements and principles characteristic of a competitive market, this logic must also be combined with systematically different concerns according to the categories of activities. The proper functioning of the regulatory system will depend on its ability to strike a balance between these conflicting values. The trade-off is often difficult to achieve. It is simpler in sectors where the interests involved are often identical, as the reports by Mr Le Gall on the financial markets and by Mr Pénard and Mr Thirion on telecommunications show. On the other hand, in other sectors, the greater heterogeneity between the different competitive values at stake makes it more difficult to strike a balance. The contributions of Mr Danet and Mr Malin on the regulation of the French health system are particularly enlightening on this point.
The establishment or maintenance of the balances thus established cannot be achieved or maintained without sufficiently effective legal means with regard to the agents of the regulated activities. The importance of financial penalties imposed in certain areas, in particular financial markets, calls for the application of these tools in areas that are a priori resistant to this type of instrument. The regulation of health care and public health systems, which is widely addressed in the book, is the subject of a broad discussion that concludes with a plea by Professor Champaud for the development of regulatory mechanisms in the health field, which also implies the end of generalised free health care.
Until now, French works dedicated to the analysis of the regulation phenomenon were abnormally absent. This collective research, which is only the first stone of an even broader reflection on these mechanisms, is a valuable and welcome instrument.