The term “nationalise” has historically been regarded with deep distrust by most European countries. This left-wing parties’ wet dream is considered the worst nightmare for the right-wing European parties. For the leftist supporters, the state should provide essential services such as electricity, transport, water, and participate in strategic sectors such as banking or aviation. On the other side of the political spectrum, instead, the right depicts those strategies as a communist regime course of action , defending the free market self-regulation. An example of this eternal debate came out in Spain in January 2021, when a cold wave hit the country in conjunction with the most significant increase in the electricity bill .
Lately, public companies are rekindling among the European Union’s Member States. The economic crisis of 2008 put an end to decades of privatisation and liberalism, and the COVID19 pandemic has proved this turnaround. “I will not hesitate to use all the available means to protect the most prominent French companies. We will achieve this goal through recapitalisation, acquiring shares, and I can even use, if necessary, the term ‘nationalisation'”, declared the French Minister of finance, Bruno Le Maire, in March 2020.
Hungary and Poland have strengthened for years their public business structures to gain self-autonomy and weaken foreign ownership . Nevertheless, countries like Germany or France have recently changed their official line acquiring a more radical approach. Despite the usual German perception of state intervention in private companies as a violation of the free-market orthodoxy , last May, the Merkel government bailed out Lufthansa airline with a 9 billion euros fee in exchange for 20% of its shares. Things are changing, and the growing interest in public companies all around Europe has come to stay.
From Thatcher to Podemos: privatisation or nationalisation
The Great Depression of 1929 and World War II pushed many Governments to adopt a more active role in the economic sphere . Public companies got interested in new strategic markets to correct possible counter-measures and pursue the public interest. Beyond telecommunications, postal services, airlines or railways, in theory more efficient with a supplier or natural monopolies, the governments began to focus on new sectors such as manufacturing. An example of those novel investments is the Spanish Society of Tourism Automobile (SEAT ), founded in 1950 by the Spanish National Institute of Industry lately privatised in 1986.
Such was the public company’s popularity at the end of the 1960s that no politician would have thought of privatising a firm. However, something changed whit Margaret Thatcher’s advent . As a British Prime Minister, running the country from 1979 to 1990, Thatcher revolutionis