General economic interest

General economic interest

Services of general economic interest in the European Union Law

Concept of Services of general economic interest provided by the “Glossary of terms used in EU competition policy” (Antitrust and control of concentrations, published in 2002): Services of an economic nature, the provision of which can be consid-ered to be in the general interest. For example, basic, publicly acces-sible supply of energy, telecommunication, postal services, transport, water and waste-disposal services. The Member States are primarily responsible for defining what they regard as services of general economic interest on the basis of the specific features of the activities concerned. However, their definitions are subject to the Commission's control for manifest errors where Member States specifically entrust undertakings within the meaning of Article 86(2) of the EC Treaty with services of general economic interest. The precise definition of the particular task assigned to the entrusted undertaking is an important element for assessing whether, and to what extent, it is justified for the State to grant exclusive rights or funds to that undertaking in order to ensure the fulfilment of the task.

(See also: Article 16 of the EC Treaty; communication from the Commission of 20.9.2000, services of general interest in Europe (OJ C 17, 19.1.2001); Commission report to the Laeken European Council of 17.10.2001, services of general interest (COM(2001)598 final).)

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