EP Conference on services of general interestComments Off on EP Conference on services of general interest

The European Parliament Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee held a public conference on 11 June 2003 on a future "European perspective" for services of general interest. In the light of the recent Commission Green Paper on this subject, economic, social and legal experts, as well as social stakeholders and NGOs exposed their differences of opinion, especially regarding the extent to which these services should be subject to competition rules and the need for a framework directive.

Some speakers (European Trade Union Confederation – ETUC, European Federation of Public Enterprises – CCEP) wanted services of general interest to be included in the constitutional treaty, and criticised that the Green Paper uses competition and prices as the only criteria; they were also in favour of a framework directive containing common general principles.

Other speakers (European Employers’ Association – UNICE) supported the call for high quality services, but were against including it in the treaty or having a framework directive. They preferred specific directives, which would apply competition rules.

Several experts stressed the difficulties to define services of general "economic" interest. The need for a thorough evaluation of the impact on quality and prices of liberalisation processes already undertaken was also highlighted.

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