Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Local and regional governments as service providers

Services of general interest - 29.10.2003

CEMR says 'no" to forced liberalisation of public services
No to compulsory competitive tendering of local and regional services ! That is the key message of CEMR's position paper on Services of General Interest, adopted by CEMR's Policy Committee on 29th October in Martina Franca, Italy. The paper is in response to a recent Commission Green Paper on Services of General Interest.
Secretary-General Jeremy Smith said : 'Whether or not to tender public services should be a matter of democratic choice for local and regional governments. Our members across Europe have differing views on tendering, but are united on this issue of democracy. We do not believe that European competition law should be used to force through liberalisation of local public services."
CEMR is particularly concerned at the drift to defining essential public services as being of economic interest - since once they are so defined, EU competition law starts to bite: Just because in one or two states a few private companies start to offer to deliver key services does not change the nature of those services from social to commercial. Yet under present EU interpretation of the rules, there is a risk of defining more and more services as economic and commercial. We need new guidelines to stop this drift towards the marketisation of the public realm.
CEMR argues that the principles of subsidarity and local self-government support its case to keep European competition law from intervening in decisions on local and regional services.
CEMR's position paper
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