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Services of general interest (SGIs) cover both market and non-market services and are deemed essential to ensure citizens' participation in social and economic life; for example, energy supply, public transport and postal services. Key elements of SGIs are their accessibility to the public, price affordability and quality. The approach to SGIs has evolved in recent years. It is characterised by increased liberalisation and consumer safeguards, and an intensive exchange of views on European citizenship and European values.

In July 2005, the Commission adopted the Altmark package (‘Altmark’ refers to a German bus company awarded state aid), a Commission Decision (based on Article 86(3) of the EC Treaty) that specifies the conditions under which compensation to companies for the provision of public services is compatible with state aid rules.

In May 2004, the Commission adopted a White Paper on Services of General Interest based on the conclusions drawn from contributions to its Green Paper on Services of General Interest (2003). A follow-up Commission communication is expected by the end of 2007.

On 18 June 2002, the Commission adopted a Communication defining a methodology for evaluating services of general economic interest. Commission reports on the horizontal evaluation of the performance of network industries providing services of general economic interest were subsequently published in 2004, 2007. (available at http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/economic-reports/index_en.htm).

Report on services of general interest for the Laeken European Council pdfof December 2001.

Annex to the ‘Report on the functioning of product and capital markets’ (‘Cardiff report’) of 7 December 2001.

Communication on Services of General Interest pdf of the 1996 provisions in the Amsterdam treaty and the Commission Communication pdfof 20 September 2000.

Links to relevant sector legislation

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