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In general, liberalization refers to a relaxation of previous government restrictions, usually in areas of social or economic policy.
Liberalization and privatization
Although economic liberalization is often associated with privatization, the two can be quite separate processes. For example, the European Union has liberalized gas and electricity markets, instituting a system of competition; but some of the leading European energy companies (such as EDF and Vattenfall) remain partially or completely in government ownership.
Liberalised and privatised public services may be dominated by just a few big companies, particularly in sectors with high capital costs. In some cases they may remain legal monopolies, at least for some part of the market (eg small consumers).
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