Legally, the State is a public law subject defined by territory, people and institutions. It acts in the international space and emits norms. Politically, it has the legitimacy required to express the will of the social body and to exercise the violence of which it deprives the other subjects of law. It is often recognizable by its power: its use of public force, its budgetary power, its jurisdictional power. These three powers, declining or being challenged by private, international and more satisfying mechanisms, some predicted the disappearance of the State, to deplore it or to dance on its corpse.
With such a background, in current theories of Regulation, primarily constructed by economic thought and at first sight one might say that the State is above all the enemy. And this for two main reasons. The first is theoretical and of a negative nature. The advocates of the theory of regulation deny the State the political qualities set out above. The State would not be a "person" but rather a group of individuals, civil servants, elected officials and other concrete human beings, expressing nothing but their particular interests, coming into conflict with other interests, and using their powers to serve the former rather than the latter as everyone else. The Regulation theory, adjoining the theory of the agency, is then aimed at controlling public agents and elected representatives in whom there is no reason to trust a priori.
The second reason is practical and positive. The State would not be a "person" but an organization. Here we find the same perspective as for the concept of enterprise, which classical lawyers conceive as a person or a group of people, while economists who conceive of the world through the market represent it as an organization. The state as an organization should be "efficient" or even "optimal". It is then the pragmatic function of the Regulation Law. When it is governed by traditional law, entangled by that it would be an almost religious illusions of the general interest, or even the social contract, it is suboptimal. The Regulation purpose is about making it more effective.
To this end, as an organization, the State is divided into independent regulatory agencies or independent administrative authorities that manage the subjects as close as possible, which is fortunate in reducing the asymmetry of information and in reviving trust in a direct link. The unitary, distant and arrogant State is abandoned for a flexible and pragmatic conception of a strategic state (without capital ...) that would finally have understood that it is an organization like any other ...
Competition law adopts this conception of the State, which it posed from the beginning that it was an economic operator like any other. This is how this conception which would be more "neutral" of the world is often presented.
Successive crises, whether sanitary or financial, have produced a pendulum effect.
Now, the notions of general interest or common goods are credited of an autonomous value, and the necessity of surpassing immediate interests and of finding persons to bear superior interests or to take charge of the interests of others, even a non-immediate one, emerged.
Thus, the State or the public authority, reappears in the globalization. The Compliance Law or the Corporal Social Responsibility of the crucial companies are converging towards a consideration of the State, which can not be reduced to a pure and simple organization receptacle of externalities.