Position:Jose Manuel Barroso

Identified as a priority at the start of the European Commission president's second term, services of general interest (SGIs) were to form part of a horizontal initiative from the EU executive, which would take into account contributions made to this field in the Lisbon Treaty. Jose Manuel Barroso therefore published a communication, on 20 December 2011, laying down the orientations for a quality framework of SGIs in the EU. With Protocol 26, the Lisbon Treaty makes SGIs a clearly identified legal category - rather than just an expression of "common values," as in Article 16 - recognising the wide margin of manoeuvre of the national, regional and local authorities in managing services of general economic interest (SGEIs); respecting the diversity of services; the requirement of a high level of quality, security and accessibility; the guarantee of equality of treatment; and defending the rights of users. As for Article 14, it specifies that the principles and conditions governing SGEIs are laid down "in the respect of treaties" and are adopted in co-decision by the EP and the Council and without prejudice of the competency of member states.

Therefore, this Commission orientation was eagerly awaited by the EP, the Committee of the Regions, the Economic and Social Committee and the member states, among others. As an introduction, the text highlights that such legislation is not pertinent because "everyone seems to agree at this point that it is not an immediate priority". Surprising, to say the least. Indeed, Barroso's communication is a report' of what...

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