European framework for Services of General Economic Interest
The Minister responsible for European Affairs, attached to the Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, presented France’s position on the European Commission’s proposals on regulating the financing of Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI).
France has always argued, within the European Union, in favour of recognizing the specific nature of Services of General Economic Interest, activities which contribute to public service and which have been enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty and Charter of Fundamental Rights. They are part of the EU’s shared values and play a major role in promoting its social and territorial cohesion.
In France, besides the national authorities, these services involve 37,000 local public authorities and several tens of thousands of everyday local services operators (housing, waste collection, water treatment, transport, hospitals, health and social action, culture, leisure and sport etc.).
The Commission is today revising the rules, adopted in 2005, which provide a framework for the financing of these services. France would like two main objectives to be paramount in this reform: that rules be applied more proportionately and the applicable procedures simplified.
Although the Commission’s revised draft package makes some headway, including recognition of a specific status for local SGEIs and of the special nature of social services, it poses further problems which France and a majority of member states have raised. It is particularly important to prevent certain new measures creating extra administrative burdens for local authorities.
The government is making active efforts to ensure that this new framework clarifies and simplifies the financing of Services of General Economic Interest, and thus strengthens the social dimension of the European enterprise, for the benefit of its users, the public authorities and businesses./.