Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Christopher Bovis
Chapter 10: Public procurement and services of general economic interest
Public Services (generally identified as Services of General Economic Interest or SGEIs) occupy a vital role in the shared values of the Union: they promote social and territorial cohesion, foster the well-being of people across the EU and make an important contribution to Europe’s economic development. Examples range from large commercial services that are provided to the entire population at affordable conditions (network industries such as postal services, energy security of supply, electronic communication services or public transport) to a wide range of health and social services (such as care for elderly or disabled people). These services are of great importance since they deliver outcomes in the overall public good that would not be supplied – or would be supplied under different conditions in terms of objective quality, safety, affordability, equal treatment or universal access – by the market without public intervention. This definition of SGEIs, which was delivered by the Commission in its 2013 Quality Framework, cannot be found in the EU treaties or in secondary legislation even though the concept appears in Articles 14 and 106(2) TFEU, Protocol No 26 to the TFEU, Article 36 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union as well as in numerous Commission decisions, cases decided by the Court of Justice and the two SGEI Packages of the Commission. When a public contract to provide SGEIs is awarded to a company, State aid comes into play. Indeed, public contracts are directly or indirectly attributable to public bodies and are generally financed through state resources.
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