Due to their privileged position SOEs may negatively affect competition and it is therefore important to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible consistent with their public service responsibilities, they are subject to similar competition disciplines as private enterprises. Although enforcing competition rules against SOEs presents enforcers with particular challenges, competition rules should, and generally do, apply to both private and state-owned enterprises, subject to very limited exceptions. Competition law alone is not sufficient in ensuring a level playing field for SOEs and private enterprises, which is why policies aimed at achieving competitive neutrality between the two play an essential role. Competitive neutrality can be understood as a regulatory framework (i) within which public and private enterprises face the same set of rules and (ii) where no contact with the state brings competitive advantage to any market participant. Presence of competitive neutrality policies is of particular importance in recently liberalised sectors, where they play a crucial role in leveling the playing field between former state monopoly incumbents and private entrants. Equally important is their effective monitoring and enforcement.
State Owned Enterprises and the Principle of Competitive Neutrality