11 December 2010
The first approach of the Intergroup was to seek to grasp the new legal framework constituted by the Treaty of Lisbon
1. New competency of Parliament in the field of public services.
Art. 14 TFUE (ex Art. 16 TCE): Without prejudice to Article 4 of the Treaty on European Union or to Articles 93, 106 and 107 of this Treaty, and given the place occupied by services of general economic interest in the shared values of the Union as well as their role in promoting social and territorial cohesion, the Union and the Member States each within their respective powers and within the scope of application of the Treaties, shall take care that such services operate on the basis of principles and conditions, particularly economic and financial conditions, which enable them to fulfil their missions. The European Parliament and the Council, acting by means of regulations in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish these principles and set these conditions without prejudice to the competence of member States, in compliance with the Treaties, to provide, to commission and to fund such services.
2. New specific protocol for SGEIs establishes roles of local authorities
Protocol on services of general interest (n°26):
The shared values of the
the essential role and the wide discretion of national, regional and local authorities in providing, commissioning and organising services of general economic interest as closely as possible to the needs of the users;
the diversity between various services of general economic interest and the differences in the needs and preferences of users that may result from different geographical, social or cultural situations;
a high level of quality, safety and affordability, equal treatment and the promotion of universal access and of user rights.
The provisions of the Treaties do not affect in any way the competence of Member States to provide, commission and organise non-economic services of general interest.
3. New legal basis establishes right to access to public services
Article 36 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the
4. Transverse social clause
Article 9 “In defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health.”
These four points of the Treaty of Lisbon are very positive elements. Are they sufficient to secure the organisation and management of national and local public services? This question remains a point of debate with the European Commission. The Intergroup has on several occasions taken a stance to say that the Treaty constitutes a necessary legal basis but not a sufficient one. The Treaty leaves too much room still to interpretation, and hence to legal unsafeness.
The Intergroup believes that the legal environment of public services should be clarified on the basis of the new provisions of the Treaty as is authorised by Article 14 and in respect of Articles 9, 106 (3), 114 TFUE and Protocol 26.