What is an Epl ?

In France, local public enterprises are called Epl

An Entreprise publique locale is organized under private law and delivers services of general interest. Public authorities hold at least the majority of these Société Anonyme which equal the British limited company. There are three different types of public enterprises in France: Sem, Spl and Spla.

The financing of Société d'économie mixte (Sem) is both public and private while the types Société publique locale (Spl) and Société publique locale d'amenagement (Spla) are exclusively financed by public capital.

Sem : Société d'économie mixte is traditionally the most significant type of public enterprises in France. It has been statutory since 1983. A Société d'économie mixte requires at least seven shareholders. Characteristically some of them are private organizations, such as banks, companies or the chamber of commerce or industry. By law between 50 and 85 percent of the capital share has to be held by public authorities, i.e. the state or local authorities. In the exercise of their tasks Sem are not limited to the territory of the respective local authority, on the contrary, they compete with private enterprises.

Spla : Société publique locale d'aménagement has been created in 2006 in order to enable new forms of cooperation between public partners. This type requires a minimum of two local authorities for setting up a public enterprise which is exclusively financed by public authorities. There are no private shareholders. However, Spla is limited to regional and urban planning and cannot operate outside of the local authorities' territory.

Spl : Since 2010 local authorities are entitled to establish a Société publique locale whose activities go beyond regional and urban planning. Thus, Spl might be dedicated to construction or all kind of services of general interest. Their activities can, however, only be exercised for their public shareholders within their territory.


Epl in numbers

Currently (2012) there are 1 158 public enterprises in France. While there are only 38 enterprises of the type Société publique locale d'amenagement and only 119 of the type Société publique locale, the Sociétés d'économie mixte dominate largely with 1 001 enterprises.


Key figures

•  1 158 public enterprises (1 001 Sem, 119 Spl, 38 Spla)

•  52  668 employees

•  3,56 billion euros share capital (of which 65% is held by local authorities)

•  A turnover of 11,93 billion euros

Traditionally regional and urban planning and housing dominate the activities of French local enterprises. With 26 percent regional and urban planning represent the most important sector in terms of the number of enterprises. Similarly 20 percent operate in the housing sector. Tourism and culture represent another important sector in which about 23% of all French public enterprises operate. These three sectors account for 70% of all French enterprises. The remaining enterprises work in public transport, water supply, waste water disposal, regional or local business development and other service sectors.

In terms of employees, the public transport sector has great significance. While this sector accounts for only 7 percent of local enterprises in France, it amounts to 32 percent of the overall employees. With about 16 133 employees, the public enterprises operating in public transport are the most prominent employers among all French public enterprises. On average, a public enterprise working in public transport employs 219 people. This needs to be considered as an exception since all other sectors need much less manpower. Considering that French public enterprises are on average rather small, it is not surprising that 83% of all public enterprises have 50 employees or even less.


Fédération des Entreprises publiques locales

Already in 1956, the federation of Sem was established as representation of mixed economy enterprises in France. In order to keep up with new types of organization, the federation was renamed on April 15 th 2008 as Federation of Public Enterprises. It represents the interests of 1 158 public enterprises of three different types. The administrative council is comprised by mayors, general and regional councilors of the involved local authorities and representatives of the private shareholders. The federation's tasks can be divided into three categories :


Promoting public enterprises in putting forward their positions

The FedEpl represents and supports the interests of public enterprises in their relation to the state, the local authorities and their partners on all political and administrative levels. Its lobbying is based upon 130 deputies in departements and regions who are at the top of local enterprises and upon the work of nine permanent commissions which are supported by 34 committees and expert groups.

FedEpl has a major role within CEEP which represents public enterprises in Europe.  


Establishing and further developing professional networks

The FedEpl maintains and promotes more than 30 professional networks in order to encourage enterprises to exchange in both professional (tourism, housing, etc.) and functional (presidents, directors, governance, etc.) terms. The aim is to institutionalize exchange and communication flows between different enterprises and different levels in order to maximize the benefit for all actors involved.


Sustainable increase of the performance of public enterprises

FedEPL offers different services to its members and its partners in order to keep public enterprises up–to-date and to increase their competences. These services contain for example the homepage “ Epl en ligne ” which offers a lot of information, the newsletter, legal consulting, analyses of financial structures and vocational training.


FedEpl in Europe

FedEpl has been actively involved in the work of the parent association of public enterprises in Europe : CEEP (European Centre for Employers and Employees providing Public services) serves as a common forum for all European public enterprises and represents their interests towards the European Union. As one of the three social partners of the EU, CEEP collaborates closely with the highest political level. FedEpl supports the CEEP and coordinates the national section of the CEEP in France.

Apart from the CEEP, FedEpl protects the interests of public enterprises independently in Strasbourg and Brussels through the direct contact to decision makers at EU level.


Member enterprises of FedEpl

Member enterprises of FedEpl can be assigned to five different sectors: Regional and urban planning, housing, tourism, public transport and environment and public utilities. There is a great diversity of enterprises and tasks:

SAGES in Grenoble  : The city of Grenoble has instructed this Spla to restructure and modernize the former barrack De Bonne . New public utility and public transport facilities are being designed. Also, new commercial and residential buildings are planned.

Marseille Habitat : This Sem, located in Marseille, builds and manages social housing and renovates and upgrades rundown houses.

Avignon Tourisme : This Sem manages historic monuments and other sights of interest in Avignon, such as the congress centeror the Palais des Papes, which is known as residence of former popes and antipopes and part of the World Heritage.

Eau du Ponant in Brest : This Spl supplies the area of greater Brest with drinking water and takes care of the waste water disposal. This 100% publicly financed enterprise has taken over the mandate from the private enterprise Veolia on April 1 st 2012.

SAEMES in Paris : This public-private enterprise runs a large share of the above and underground parking of the city of Paris. Besides the construction of new parking areas the Sem is charged with maintenance and renovation of the facilities.



For further information :

Thierry Durnerin

Director External Relations
French Federation of Local Public Enterprises

France : Fédération des Entreprises publiques locales
95, rue d'Amsterdam
F-75008 Paris
Phone : +33 (1) 53 32 22 25
Fax : +33 (0)1 53 32 22 22

Belgium : Rue des Deux Eglises, 26 boîte 5
BE-1000 Bruxelles - Belgique
Phone : + 32 (2) 219 27 98
Fax : +32 (2) 218 12 13

e-mail : ceep@ceep.eu

Quoi de neuf ?

Les rendez-vous Epl à ne pas manquer