On 20 December 2011, along with the draft directives setting out amendments to the existing procurement rules on public contracts and utilities, the European Commission issued a controversial draft directive on concession contracts, aimed at completing the EU public procurement regime by including services concessions. Services concessions are the only ones not yet governed by secondary legislation, being so far guided only by the general principles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU). After an overview in Section 2 of the reasons that led the European Commission to finally regulate the award of concessions and a sketch of the main provisions of the proposed directive, Section 3 will explore the impact of the new measures on the entrustment of services of general economic interest (SGEIs) and of the universal service (US) in particular, with reference to the provisions of the Postal Directive that allow member states to designate the Universal Service Provider (USP) without any prior call for competition. Section 4 examines the interplay of the new rules with Universal Service Obligation (USO) compensation, under both the Postal Directive and the SGEI Framework for State aid in the form of public service compensation.
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