ETUC demands greater clarity for services of general interest

Brussels, 28/09/2006

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) emphasises the importance of this demand. Services of general interest are essential ingredients of social cohesion and solidarity, and a crucial pillar of the European Social Model. The ETUC cannot accept the principle that all services relating to health, social welfare, water supply and so on should be liberalised. There must be further reflexion before going ahead with more liberalisation and privatisation in areas such as postal services, energy, etc. The ETUC has proposed a pause in order to allow for a framework directive to be drawn up, and agreed in co-decision with the Parliament.

It is time now to move forward and formulate a more ambitious response to the challenge of promoting and developing services of general interest in Europe, rather than unilaterally and blindly going ahead with the pursuit of competition as if this were the only principle regulating an open market,” declared ETUC General Secretary John Monks. There needs to be a positive framework and not merely a system of derogations for services of general interest. Where there are conflicts between market rules and the general interest, the latter must prevail. Services of general interest urgently need a positive legal status.

It is up to the Commission to bring forward a satisfactory solution - merely publishing yet another Communication is not adequate. The ETUC is convinced that greater legal certainty is necessary and that such a framework is feasible at European level. That is why the ETUC has recently proposed an outline for a framework directive (attached).

- [Draft European framework to
Guarantee and Develop services of general economic interest