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
Report on services of general interest for the Laeken European Council
of 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
of the 1996 provisions in the Amsterdam treaty
and the Commission Communication
of 20 September 2000.
Links to relevant sector legislation