The Provision of Public Services in Europe

The Provision of Public Services in Europe

Between State, Local Government and Market

Edited by Hellmut Wollmann and Gérard Marcou

The book is the first of its kind to provide a comparative analysis of the provision of social and public services in France, Italy, Germany, the UK and Norway.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Hellmut Wollmann and Gérard Marcou

Subjects: economics and finance, services, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public policy


Hellmut Wollmann and Gérard Marcou BACKGROUND This book is the final output of a series of workshops organized by GRALE1 between 2006 and 2008 with major support from the Villa Vigoni programme2 at the Villa Vigoni (Menaggio, Lake Como, Italy). The research has been extended beyond the limits of the Villa Vigoni programme triad (Italy, France and Germany) to include the UK and Norway as thematically particularly relevant. IN FOCUS: SOCIAL SERVICES, PUBLIC SERVICES This book offers an international comparison of local government responsibilities and functions in providing public services to the local population. It examines the provision of both social and economic services by local authorities, mainly city governments. Although these categories of service differ strongly, they have been subject to increased market pressure after a long period under the more or less exclusive responsibility of local government, and when local authorities decided to contract out services to private enterprises. This has determined the sample of services selected for cross-country comparison Social services are services for people and families. They include child care, long-term care for the elderly and frail, and health services; and they can include basic education, basic cultural amenities (e.g. public libraries) and sports facilities (e.g. swimming pools). Such services are usually financed by budgetary appropriations or social security contributions, and only to a limited extent by user contributions. This is also the case when service delivery is contracted out. The terminology of economic public services differs from country to country. This may cause confusion...