Privatization (from Latin privatus ) in the narrow sense describes the conversion of public assets into private property . In a broader sense, privatization is understood to mean the relocation of previously state activities to the private sector of the economy . However, there is no generally accepted definition.
The word “privatize” can be traced back to the German-speaking area in the early 19th century. He appears in the Göttingische Schehrten advertisements from 1846: “In no other country is the system of privatization of state forests so popular as in the blessed, wooded Austria” (p. 203). In contrast, “privatizing” often still meant withdrawing into private life, evading the obligations of an official position, etc.
Since the middle of the 20th century, it has been used almost consistently in the sense of acts in which something previously “state” is transferred to private individuals, such as ownership of real estate or shares. From this the noun “privatization” developed.
Theoretical foundations and history
Privatizations correspond to the demands of liberalism for a self-responsible, privately autonomous design of the economic process as the basis of the economic order . Classical liberalism and the neoliberalism that emerged in the 1930s and 1940s already called for the state to largely withdraw from economic activity. Neoliberal ideas became the basis of the economic system of the Federal Republic of Germany in the concept of the social market economy , without, however, according to Fritz Rittner and Meinrad Dreher , having developed a closed theory of privatization at that time. A comprehensive privatization policy was first implemented in the 1980s in Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher and the USA under Ronald Reagan , based on the liberal economic ideas of Milton Friedman and other representatives of the Chicago School as a theoretical foundation. According to Jörn Axel Kämmerer, on the other hand, the assets of the federal and state governments in Germany had already been significantly reduced in the post-war years. Demands for privatization were made by the CDU politicians Ludwig Erhard and Karl Arnold and their implementation was supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Property of the Federal Government as the " Ministry of Privatization".
Types of privatization
The generic term privatization describes a wide variety of issues. In its original sense, privatization means the transfer of state property to private owners. This classic, property-oriented concept of privatization has been greatly expanded in the recent privatization discussion. This expanded concept of privatization can basically be divided into material, formal or functional privatization.
- Material privatization : the state withdraws from the production of goods and leaves it up to the market to decide in what way and in what quantity the corresponding goods are produced. One speaks here of task privatization, because tasks previously taken over by the state are transferred to the private sector. This most extensive form of privatization is also referred to as “real” or “actual” privatization or “privatization in the narrower sense”. Material privatizations often take place through the sale of public companies or other public assets to private individuals. In this case, one also speaks of asset privatization.
- functional privatization : the state commissions private companies to carry out tasks that were previously carried out by the public sector. The state only avails itself of the help of private individuals to fulfill its tasks, without the public task itself being transferred. This form is sometimes viewed as “spurious privatization”. However, it is also argued that functional privatization is a partial privatization of tasks in which only a “partial contribution related to a government task” is outsourced to the private sector, so that this type is between “real” and “fake” privatization ranked. Sometimes a distinction is also made between “real” and “fake” functional privatization. While the former means outsourcing to purely private vicarious agents, the latter involves already existing state-owned companies.
- Formal privatization : a task carried out by the public purse remains the responsibility of the state, only the legal form is converted into a society under private law, whereby state ownership continues to exist. This form, also known as organizational privatization, is often the case in the area of services of general interest , for example when so-called private companies are founded at the municipal level. Since the ownership structure remains unaffected here, this weakest form of privatization is also referred to as “fake privatization” or “sham privatization”.
In addition to these basic forms, there are a number of other distinctions and these typifications often overlap and smooth transitions. However, there is no generally accepted definition. According to Jörn Axel Kämmerer , the endeavor to clarify the term “privatization” becomes a farce when a typification assigns different and sometimes incompatible meanings to the same term. That is why, in the opinion of Franz-Joseph Peine, privatization has "degenerated into a catchphrase to which everything and ultimately nothing can be assigned."
Privatization and market regulation
Privatization is often closely related to deregulation . However, the connection between privatization and deregulation is controversial in the literature due to differing understandings of terms. In some cases, regulation is understood to mean a state influence that restricts the market, in particular nationalization. Other authors understand it in a more comprehensive sense to be state control ( governance ) that serves public goals such as security of supply in previously monopolistically structured industries , but is also intended to achieve market-based competition.
Both privatization and deregulation aim to streamline the state . In some areas of public services of general interest , however, the question arises whether tasks that remain with the state despite partial privatization should not be asserted by means of increased regulation. At least in Germany, the dissolution of state monopolies - admittedly more liberal - made forms of regulation necessary. As long as there is a public monopoly administration, there are no market participants who would have to be influenced by the state. Regulation is understood here as an instrument with which the state fulfills its warranty obligations. According to Johann-Christian Pielow , the “current market conditions” therefore require “accompanying re-regulation by the state” in most supply areas, because the dominant position of former monopoly companies continues to have an effect or B. with supply networks the problem of a natural monopoly still exists. In addition, should the " cherry-picking " ( cherry picking be prevented), in which, after the privatization only profitable parts of the business, neglecting the supply will be continued in the area. However, care should be taken to ensure that moderate re-regulation does not turn into re-bureaucratisation and thus inhibit the market forces that it actually wants to liberate. On the basis of empirical studies, a positive connection between privatization and a subsequent increasing re-regulation is assumed by research on regulatory capitalism . In the opinion of Fritz Rittner and Meinrad Dreher, the term re-regulation is misleading, since, according to the concept of regulation, which includes all market-restricting state influence, it is, on the whole, a process of deregulation, since the state regulation of a privatized economic sector means reduced regulation in the economy as a whole in comparison to the complete retention of a state monopoly.
In the report to the Club of Rome on the limits of privatization , scientists describe examples of privatization from all over the world that have progressed in different ways. According to this, privatization can be successful if the state determines the rules and guarantees competition. “Good regulation is the prerequisite for successful privatization,” says Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker , editor of the report. From a regulatory point of view, state monopolies cannot simply be replaced by private monopolies in privatizations . Rather, the state must ensure that competition works .
Assessment and empirical evaluation
“In the social market economy , private initiative and private property have priority over state responsibility and state property (→ principle of subsidiarity ). Private property and private-sector business activities that are driven and controlled by the market and competition best guarantee economic freedom, economic efficiency and adaptation to changing market conditions and thus prosperity and social security for citizens. […] Wherever possible, private property must replace state property to the greatest possible extent. "
In the opinion of the Monopolies Commission , one of the central promoters of German privatization policy, specialization, rationalization and operating cost advantages come into play in the private provision of services, which is also linked to a better system of incentives and sanctions.
Privatization policy is often justified with the economically liberal conviction that the share of the public sector must be pushed back in favor of the private economy and that the provision of private services, as regulated by the laws of the market, is fundamentally more efficient . Other authors point out that, in addition to successful privatizations, there have also been cases in which mixed results or even systematic failures occurred.
In economics, neoclassical models that do not take transaction costs into account differ from transaction cost economic approaches in their assessment of privatizations. While the former generally support calls for privatization, a more differentiated picture emerges on the basis of transaction cost approaches. Transaction cost economics emphasizes that the Pareto efficiency of the competitive equilibrium can only be guaranteed under unrealistic conditions. Taking into account information and monitoring costs, David Sappington and Joseph Stiglitz , for example, emphasize that not all privatizations are successful because influencing intra-communal companies is associated with lower transaction costs.
According to Soenke Lehmitz, an evaluation of more than 50 studies from five countries, in which the effects of privatization on efficiency in a wide variety of areas were considered, shows that most studies suggested that private production was advantageous. The 2011 study by the American Project on Government Oversight ( POGO ), on the other hand, came to the conclusion that the outsourcing of services was more expensive for the American taxpayer in most of the cases (in 33 out of 35) than if these services were provided by the state Employees would have been provided.
In Attac's view , areas of public services of general interest such as education, transport, the health sector, energy and water supply must not be left to the logic of the market, as they fulfill tasks that go beyond economic questions and therefore cannot be managed or assessed according to profitability standards . Peter Erdmeier points out that politicians could use the possibility of pursuing goals other than profitability in the public sector to enforce election and party political interests.
Situation in Germany
The Basic Law (GG) does not contain a complete catalog of state tasks. Rights of intervention that are not based on a contract are always subject to state supervision and require a loan (e.g. TÜV). Another limit for privatizations in Germany is the functional reservation of 33.4 of the Basic Law, which provides that the exercise of sovereign powers is generally to be delegated to members of the public service (see also civil servants ). This prevents the police tasks in the narrower sense from being privatized. Furthermore, the possibility of nationalization is anchored in Para. 3 and GG .
For constitutional reasons, material privatization is limited by compulsory or compulsory state tasks - for example in the area of intervention management . Above all, tasks that are covered by the state monopoly of the use of force are affected , such as the judiciary and the military, foreclosure and public notarization, monetary affairs and the tasks of the police. In the area of local self-government , too, a core that is solidly privatized is protected from extensive task privatization under German law, resulting in a (relative) privatization ban. See also the main article on local self-government . According to most staff representation laws , the staff council has a say - or at least a right to participate in privatization projects.
According to general interest and thus, if necessary, privatization at the municipal level, e.g. B. in the area of water and energy supply, or to reverse by means of remunicipalisation. According to the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, public tasks - including those of general interest - do not have to be carried out directly by the state. Insofar as the state withdraws from the fulfillment of its tasks by means of privatization, it may retain regulatory, monitoring and liability obligations, the precise details of which must be determined in each specific case.Basic Law, it is part of the state's right to self-government to also perform tasks of
- In the course of the German rail reform , the Deutsche Bundesbahn and Deutsche Reichsbahn were transferred to Deutsche Bahn AG .
- Federal agency for air traffic control in the German air traffic control GmbH
In addition, the following were fully or partially privatized in terms of capital:
- As part of the German postal reform , the Deutsche Bundespost was divided into Deutsche Post AG , Deutsche Telekom AG and Deutsche Postbank AG .
- German Federal Printing Office (now nationalized again),
- Lufthansa , VIAG , VEBA , Volkswagen , Hamburg Airport , Federal Gazette , Lübeck Port Company , Fraport , IVG Immobilien
The German reunification created a special historical situation . The GDR joined the Federal Republic. After the introduction of the D-Mark in the GDR on July 1, 1990, large parts of the GDR's state- owned companies were no longer competitive. The Treuhandanstalt privatized many of these companies. In 1994 it was divided into several organizations, the most important of which was the Federal Agency for Unification-Related Special Tasks .
The Königsberg system was the pacemaker in the Weimar Republic . Examples of privatization in the municipal sector include the privatization or partial privatization of public utilities . These include Berliner Wasserbetriebe , MVV Energie , Neckarwerke Stuttgart , Stadtwerke Essen and Stadtwerke Düsseldorf . RWE , Veolia , E.ON and EnBW are important private shareholders in formerly fully municipal companies .
Since then, some citizens' petitions have called for the disclosure of the privatization contracts and the remunicipalisation of privatized municipal companies. On February 13, 2011 in Berlin there was a successful referendum on the disclosure of the partial privatization agreements at Berliner Wasserbetriebe .
Examples of remunicipalisation are the sale of Thüga to a consortium of municipal energy supply companies, the popular initiative for remunicipalisation in Hamburg and the referendum on the disclosure of the partial privatization agreements at Berliner Wasserbetriebe .
In 1997, the city privatized Stuttgart the Stadtwerke Stuttgart and founded the Neckar works Stuttgart . The energy supply was remunicipalised as early as 2011 and Stadtwerke Stuttgart was re-established.
Another preferred object of communal privatization is communal hospitals and nursing homes for the elderly, which have often been taken over by the majority or entirely of the few private hospital groups operating in Germany . In addition to synergy effects through volume discounts for large orders, there is hope here, through more effective management, but also (for the employer) more favorable working conditions for employees within the framework of the expiry of the binding period of § 613a BGB (transfer of operations ) or by escaping from the collective bargaining agreement by subcontractors, previously deficit companies to bring them into the profit zone.
Public procurement is often carried out in the form of public-private partnerships (PPP), in which private companies are commissioned by a government agency to plan, renovate, build and / or operate public facilities. These can be highways, schools, day care centers, clinics, prisons, fire and rescue stations, swimming pools, administrative buildings and military facilities. PPPs are decided because, unlike investments according to the current statutes, they do not increase new debt and thus debt can be disguised. The Federal Audit Office came to the conclusion that the federal government's major PPP trunk road projects cost up to 40 percent more than those financed by the federal government. One of the main reasons for this is that the federal government, with its high credit rating, can get loans much cheaper than private companies.
Situation in Austria
Wholly or partially privatized were on the Austrian industrial holding among other things, OMV AG , VA Tech AG , Böhler-Werke , VOEST-ALPINE STAHL AG , Vamed , AT & S , Austria Metall AG , Austria Tabak , Telekom Austria , Austrian State Printing House , Dorotheum and the Austrian Post .
Situation in Switzerland
In Switzerland, state-owned companies are mostly found at the cantonal and municipal level, the federal government is only active in the infrastructure and arms sector. Many federal and cantonal companies, especially in the infrastructure and banking sector, have so far only been converted into private legal forms, but not privatized. Examples are SBB , Swisscom , Swiss Post and RUAG .
Situation in Great Britain
- Traffic area
- National Express Group (1980s), Associated British Ports (1981 to 1983), British Aerospace (1981 to 1985), British Leyland (split and privatized 1982 to 1988), British Shipbuilders (1983), British Airways (1987) British Airports Authority ( 1987), Rolls-Royce plc (1987), British Rail (1994-1997). The legal bases included the Transport Act 1980 , the Transport Act 1985 and the Railways Act 1993
The privatization of British Rail was decided by the Railways Act 1993 . However, the most important goal of privatization, the reduction of state subsidies, has not been achieved. British taxpayers now have to pay far more for private rail than they did in the days of British Rail. After there were more and more serious train accidents due to neglected maintenance work, the operation of the stations and the rail network was nationalized again . After the 1997 Southall railway accident, the Ladbroke Grove railway accident on October 5, 1999, with 31 deaths and 296 injuries, was the second serious railway accident to occur on the Great Western Main Line , just a few kilometers east of the first accident site . Both railway accidents made a significant contribution to shaking public confidence in the privatization of the railway . But it was the railway accident at Hatfield on 17 October 2000 with four dead and 70 injured then led to the collapse of the rail infrastructure company Railtrack plc., Which on 7 October 2001 by the Transport Minister Stephen Byers under receivership was created and written on 18 October 2002. On that day, under the pressure of events , the shareholders decided to voluntarily dissolve the company. The rail infrastructure was sold to the newly formed, not-for-profit Network Rail for £ 500 million . State subsidies fell in the first few years of privatization, but rose again around 2002 as a result of increased transport demand.
- Energy range
- BP (1979 to 1987), Britoil (1982), Enterprise Oil (1984), British Steel (1988), British Coal (1994), British Energy (1996), British Gas plc (split and privatized 1997)
- Cable and Wireless (1981), British Telecom (1982)
- Drinking water supply
- Thames Water (1989)
- Amersham plc (1982)
Situation in Greece
By the end of the 1990s, Greece had a relatively high proportion of employees in public companies (13.3%) compared to other countries in the then European Community . In June 2011, the Athens Parliament passed detailed privatization targets for the years 2012 to 2015 with the law on medium-term financial planning . By 2015, this supposedly "largest privatization program in the world" should have raised 50 billion euros so that the Greek state remains able to act despite its immense debts . In early 2012, the head of the privatization agency admitted that the numbers had been set on good luck and that the revenue target was unrealistic. In 2011 one could only take 1.7 billion instead of the planned 5 billion euros.
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