In Europe, “le service public” is in the general interest

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This report, drafted by a working group on the Services of general interest (SGI)

Europe offers a great variety of traditions in the field of public service. The German, British and Nordic models are all quite different from the idea of “service public à la française”. This diversity is one of the reasons why the European Union uses the term “general interest services” (GIS) with the aim not to merge the different existing national approaches but rather to bring out the “common European core” behind the notions of public and universal service.

“In all sectors involving supply networks (post, telecommunications, transportation, power, water, sewage, waste, cable, etc.), the idea of “service public” or public service is based on the fact that some activities having a social purpose or effect, must, because od the nature of the objectives or interests they involve, be outside the application of a purely market approach.”

A new political inspiration is needed to promote GIS and they must be introduced in European law. Against the idea that it is impossible to elaborate a common European definition of GIS, the report suggests the adoption of a framework document in relation to the new EU Constitution, GIS being closely linked to the issue of the fundamental rigts of EU citizens.

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